Dan Konzelman was driving on I-5 when he witnessed a high-speed Amtrak train derail between Tacoma and Olympia Monday morning.
He says he was about 20 cars back from the train bridge over I-5 when about eight train cars came off the tracks, some of them upside down, and some hit cars.
“I saw a train that looked like it was literally driving down the embankment,” Konzelman said.
Konzelman pulled off at the exit and was able to get onto the tracks before anyone was on scene to help. He and others then climbed into the train to help passengers.
"We went through the trains one at a time. Made sure people were stable. If they could move, we got them out of the train," said Konzelman. "Some of them couldn't move. They had back or neck injuries, so we assigned people to stay there with them and keep them calm. And then we worked our way down to the more serious injuries where people were pinned underneath the trains that had flipped upside down. And unfortunately, there were some deceased."
Konzelman said they were able to free some of the pinned passengers and some others were able to walk out on their own. He says he was there for about 25 minutes helping the victims before first responders arrived on scene.
KING 5’s Alex Rozier was in car three on the 501 train hours before it derailed Monday morning covering expanded rail service.
CHI Franciscan health reports 77 people were transported to area hospitals. Four of them were "level red" with the most severe injuries. Rooms are being set up at hospitals for families.
Drivers are being told to avoid the area and expect alternate routes to be backed up.
Scene photos: Amtrak train derailment