Emergency phone calls to Lexington County emergency dispatchers detail the frantic minutes immediately after an Amtrak passenger train slammed into a parked freight train near Cayce, killing two people and injuring more than 100 others.
“There’s babies with their heads busted wide open, bleeding,” a woman told the 911 dispatcher. “It’s crazy. We need help.”
The dispatcher asked Ashley how the baby was hurt.
“Because we derailed and everybody flew to the front of the train,” she said. “Everything is everywhere.”
Recordings of the calls were released by Lexington County in response to an open records request from The State newspaper.
The Silver Star was traveling from New York to Miami with about 140 passengers and eight crew members when it slammed into an empty CSX freight train that was parked on a side track, officials have said. The crash happened around 2:45 a.m. near Charleston Highway and Pine Ridge Road.
Two Amtrak employees were killed in the crash.
One caller, who identified himself as an “Amtrak employee,” told the dispatcher “we have a derailment accident” and said they were near mile post 367.
“We got a lot of injuries,” he said. “I cannot count now. I cannot walk through because the car is bent.”
Another caller, George, tells the dispatcher the train “just had a bad wreck.” When the dispatcher asks if anything is on fire, Kephart says no.
“There’s smoke inside,” he said. “People are hurt. There’s blood. I can’t even walk through because of my back.”
A fifth caller, who said he was having chest pains, can be heard asking someone in the background their location.
“We’re sending everybody,” the dispatcher tells him. “There’s police on scene. There’s a lot of people on scene. There’s fire service on scene as well already.”
Federal officials say a railroad switch that was apparently locked in the wrong position caused the crash, which remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.