Washington Amtrak crash survivor describes being 'catapulted' into seats in front of him

Chris Karnes said water and dust flew into the air upon impact.

ByKELLY MCCARTHY
December 18, 2017, 1:56 PM

— -- A man who survived the Amtrak train crash outside Tacoma, Washington, described the harrowing scene in the wake of the derailment, which left at least one car dangling off a highway overpass and caused multiple fatalities.

Chris Karnes, a member of the Community Transportation Advisory Group, who took Amtrak Cascades Train 501 to be on its inaugural run today, described hearing a "creaking" in the moments before the crash.

PHOTO: Wreckage lies at the scene of a train derailment in Washington state, Dec. 18, 2017.
Wreckage lies at the scene of a train derailment in Washington state, Dec. 18, 2017.
Pierce County Sheriff's Department

"We were going down the tracks between 70 and 80 miles an hour, I would say, and we heard a creaking, a little bit of a creaking sound," Karnes, who was not seriously injured, told ABC News.

After that, the "train started to wobble for a moment," he recalled.

"And then we were catapulted at the seats in front of us, and the next thing that we knew, our car had crumpled at a portion at the top, and we were down an embankment," he added.

PHOTO: People are seen close to the scene of the train derailment in Washington state, Dec. 18, 2017.
People are seen close to the scene of the train derailment in Washington state, Dec. 18, 2017.
KOMO

After the derailment, Karnes said his car, which had about 10 other passengers aboard, "came to rest on a hill."

"There was water, and a ton of dust flew up into the air," Karnes recalled.

"I don't know how to describe the noise. There was a crash. We knew that something had happened," he added.

PHOTO: Emergency crews respond to the scene of a train derailment over Interstate 5 in Washington state, Dec. 18, 2017.
Emergency crews respond to the scene of a train derailment over Interstate 5 in Washington state, Dec. 18, 2017.
Pierce County Sheriff

He told ABC News he saw some people taken out of a medical tent on stretchers.

"I did see one person who was not moving when we got out of the train through the emergency window," he said.

Dozens of people were injured in the crash. The cause of the derailment was not immediately known.

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