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Seven Confirmed Dead In Amtrak Derailment; Source: Train Believed To Have Been Going 100 MPH. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 13, 2015 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SENATOR PAT TOOMEY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: The scene is a horrific and heartbreaking scene. My prayers go out to the people who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy, to those who were injured, to all of their families.

I also want to take a moment to express my appreciation to the first responders, the men and women of this city's police and fire forces who have responded with such professionalism.

Mayor Nutter deserves a great deal of credit. He and his team have pulled together a very, very effective and well-coordinated effort that's included the federal as well as the city officials. So we appreciate what they're doing.

And we wanted to express both our condolences and our appreciation for that effort. As Senator Casey pointed out, a big part of my being here and his being here is to make sure that Mayor Nutter and city of Philadelphia knows if there's anything the federal government can be doing to help, we want to make sure it does that.

MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER (D), PHILADELPHIA: Senators Casey and Senator Toomey, thank you both. The response at the federal level has been tremendous here. With that in mind, let me also report to you that shortly after the earlier press conference today, I had the honor and opportunity to speak directly with President Barack Obama, who called, wanting to get on-the-ground information and facts.

The president is very concerned about what has happened here, expressed his condolences as well, but also pledged the full support of the federal government and all the agencies under the executive branch of the government. The president feels very saddened by what has happened, but he was tremendously supportive and encouraging of our efforts here on the ground.

For that, I want to say thank you to President Barack Obama for all of his leadership and support in these difficult and tragic times. With that, let me open to some questions for anything that we can answer.

Please understand, if I can't answer a question, it's not because I don't want to tell you things. It's because I literally don't have the information, and we're not going to speculate on anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible). NUTTER: I would not say that. The search is very, very active. Again, as we literally just left the scene, there are a significant number of personnel from the fire department, the police providing security, Amtrak personnel down on the tracks, and now off the tracks because most of the train is actually off the tracks.

We will not cease our efforts until we are absolutely sure that we've gone through every vehicle. The search area has actually been expanded. There was an expanded search area last night, also with canine dogs because it was dark.

And that search expanded this morning with officers and other personnel to look even further in case someone was possibly thrown from the train. So the search process is vigorous and active.

I should have said this earlier, if you could literally just raise your hand, give me a little idea as to where you're from, I'll try to get as many as I can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a report out regarding the speed of the train, going 100 miles per hour in a 50-mile-per-hour curve. Can you confirm or comment on that regarding the speed of the train?

NUTTER: I cannot confirm anything like that. I don't believe even the NTSB would be in a position to confirm anything like that. They're still going through their process.

As I mentioned earlier today, the event recorders, I think that's the official term for what we often call the black box, they're in Wilmington, Delaware, being downloaded and analyzed.

Again, let us please not try to speculate on what you could find out, in fact in a couple days. I understand the need for you to get out information.

But let us not have our need to get out information overwhelm our good common sense to have accurate information out in the marketplace. So let's not speculate. I heard a voice over here. Tommy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about reports that the train, other than this train, were hitting foreign objects last night?

NUTTER: I don't have complete certainty about two trains. I'm aware of a report of one train that has nothing to do with this incident at all, different place, different train, nothing to do with this tragedy here. And that may have been stones or rocks or something like that, nothing to do with this particular incident. Back over here. Yes, Ma'am?

[14:35:08] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In previous conference, you said you that believe the conductor or engineer had been injured, who was speaking with investigators. We've seen reports he's declined to give a statement.

NUTTER: Yes, well, first of all, I need to correct something that I said earlier. You often think of the conductor as the person who's in charge of the train or possibly even driving it. That's incorrect on my part. It's actually the engineer.

So there's an engineer, who actually drives the train, and the conductor deals with issues of ticketing and customers, et cetera. First, I was incorrect earlier when I described -- when I gave information about the conductor when I actually was talking about the engineer.

The engineer was injured, received medical care, was then interviewed by the Philadelphia Police Department and made whatever statement he may have made. I do not know what his statement is. I'm not in a position to talk about that and that's normal protocol, process, and procedure, but a statement was given.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Wagner, Channel 5, Washington, D.C., were any of the deceased children, juveniles?

NUTTER: I don't have any detailed information on the deceased. Again, I'm going to ask for your indulgence. We all do what we do for a living. I get that. These are human lives. These are people with families, just like any of us out here.

I do not want to get into descriptions about individuals when we know that families are still trying to figure out where their family member is. Were they on the train? Did they not get on the train? Were they injured?

Were they walking wounded and never reported to us? I don't have that level of detail on any of the individuals, the seven now, that we've confirmed are deceased. Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From CBS News. Can you talk about these reports about surveillance video, security camera video that may have captured this crash?

NUTTER: Yes, I'm not sure what video you're talking about. I did see on one station -- I don't want to disrespect anyone. It's a three- letter station. Two of the letters are the same.

I saw on television some flashes of light possibly from our resident's video from a camera on the back of their home. I could not figure out kind of what was going on in that. I'm not aware of any other video being available or being observed. Yes, ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Back to the engineer, can you confirm reports he's not talking to NTSB investigators, but may have talked to your police department?

NUTTER: It's my understanding from an earlier conversation, at least at this moment, that's actually not a part of the NTSB protocol under these circumstances. They are investigating the accident of a train. They are looking at tracks.

They are downloading information from their event recorders. They're looking at, you know, where the curve was, trying to determine the point at which the train actually went off the tracks. So that responsibility is actually left to local law enforcement in this particular case.

It's not a matter of NTSB not talking to this particular individual. It's not in their protocol at this moment. That's left to the local authorities. This gentleman is going to hurt himself if I don't --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wonder if you could --

NUTTER: Name and location.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ABC TV in New York. Do you have a general number of how many people are unaccounted for and what kind of progress you've made during the day in changing that number?

NUTTER: I'm not going to get into accounted for or unaccounted for. You know the details I've given you and what I've confirmed. We have seven individuals unfortunately who passed away. We treated or transported upwards of 200-plus individuals. We have an estimate, which is not completely tight or confirmed of about 243 total individuals we believe were on the train.

We are still comparing train manifests and hospital records and matching up individually pieces of information that we can glean. Again, people buy tickets and don't get on the train. Some Amtrak personnel try to get from one place to the other, may not have had a ticket or identified as being on this particular train.

So we're tediously trying to go through that. I'm not going to get into, you know, the mathematical calculations of how many folks and how many did you transport and what happened to the people in between.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said you were making progress.

NUTTER: If you want that answer, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you talk about the train control system? We heard that there were gaps out here in this quarter?

[14:40:08] NUTTER: I have no information about that, and I'm not in any position to articulate on that. Yes, ma'am? Last one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible).

NUTTER: Let me deal with that. So again, I'm going to ask for your understanding and your indulgence. We've suffered a tragedy here in our city. Seven people have died as a result of a train derailment, which is a very unusual event.

I don't believe that anyone sitting here, standing here today has any memory of a derailment of this kind in 50 years. So what I'd ask your indulgence is we not get into policy discussions or what if or what can you do or anything else.

What we have to do today, what we have to stay focused on, every person out here in the shifts and waves of people coming, is making sure we're searching every car, every inch, every thousands of square feet to find or locate individuals who may have been on that train or do a data comparison to make sure we're servicing people.

There will be another day for policy and/or politics. I'm asking that today not be that day and that we respect the folks who have lost family members and those that we're still searching for. Last question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Adam Reiss, MSNBC. I know you don't want to speculate on the speed of the train, but if we could ask the president of Amtrak, what would be acceptable at this location in terms of speed?

NUTTER: We're not going to get into that. Again, that's purely speculative. You want to talk about what's the acceptable speed. Then somebody else wants to talk about it was going 100 miles an hour. Then we want to do the simple math to figure it out. That's not going to happen. This is really the last question. You were in stereo, but I heard neither one of you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When was the last time this train was inspected?

NUTTER: I doubt that the chairman of the board of Amtrak would have that kind of information. If we can get that information and are in a position to release it, we'll be glad to get back to you. Thank you. We'll be in touch.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, a couple points. Obviously a lot of questions, some of which the mayor of Philadelphia is just quite simply not at liberty to answer. All of this pertaining to --

NUTTER: I'm not taking any more questions at this moment. For future briefings, we'll let you know.

BALDWIN: OK, so he confirmed seven fatalities. We know a little bit about two of them, one, an "Associated Press" employee, one, a 20- year-old U.S. Navy Academy midshipman so two of the seven medical examiner's office did notify next of kin.

NTSB is on the ground. The search operations still continue. In fact, he mentioned they had expanded that search area for fear of people potentially being tossed off the train so still looking for people at this point in time.

Also mentioning that he did speak with the president of the United States, expressing condolences and concern, but also pledging, you know, full federal support behind any investigation.

Let me bring back in George Gavalla, a former safety official with the Federal Railroad Administration. George, I'm sure you were listening to the mayor there. Was there any one point that jumped out at you? GEORGE GAVALLA, FORMER SAFETY OFFICIAL, FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION: I certainly can appreciate the mayor's position and all the people that are involved in the aftermath of this accident. Certainly they're correct that their responsibility at this point in time is the emergency response and the follow-up.

Certainly my heart goes out, as does everyone's, to the families of the people that were hurt, injured, or killed. So I understand that their focus is appropriate at this time on dealing with those issues.

Having said that, there are investigators, no doubt, who are on the scene, and it's their role to carefully look at all the factors involved in the accident. Certainly the speed is one critical factor.

Regardless of what information has come across regarding speed, they're not going to just look at speed. They're going to look at track conditions. They're going to look at the condition of the equipment, the locomotives, the passenger cars, and the signal system. They'll consider all the factors.

BALDWIN: He was asked about the report that, in fact, we're hearing, and I just want to be precise here on CNN.

[14:45:05] One of our correspondents who covers transportation is hearing from a source close to the investigation there in Philadelphia that this train was rounding that curve going 100 miles an hour in a 50-mile-an-hour zone.

With that, George Gavalla, thank you so much. I've got Kate Bolduan with me. She is in Philadelphia. In fact, I heard, Kate, you asked one of those questions of the mayor, specifically asking about the engineer.

And just so we are all clear, it's the engineer who is the one driving the train. You asked if he'd given a statement to police. What's the answer to that?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The mayor said very clearly that he had spoken. He had given a statement to Philadelphia police. There had been some confusion and question if he declined to give a statement.

According to the mayor, the engineer had sustained injuries, gotten treatment, and he's given a statement to Philadelphia police. Let's talk about that investigation in just a second, Brooke. We have a good opportunity right now.

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania is here with me. Senator, you just spoke up at the podium with the mayor. You were able to get a look at the scene. You called it horrific and heartbreaking. Can you describe what you thought when you saw what was out there?

TOOMEY: It's a hard thing to look at because there were 243 or so people on that train. Frankly, it's amazing that many people were able to walk off that train, to leave that scene. The devastation and destruction is really horrific so very, very difficult time for all of us but of course for the victims and their families. It's just heartbreaking.

BOLDUAN: What do you make -- you've been able to get a briefing by the mayor. The mayor was very specific to say he wants to focus on just getting this right and thinking of the victims and their families first. What did you get in terms of a briefing in terms of how the investigation is going, how long you think it's going to take?

TOOMEY: I think the NTSB is going to follow its usual protocols. My understanding is as they have factual information available to them from the black box, from the data recording devices, they will release that information. Some of that could come quite soon.

But their final report will typically take, I think, something on the order of 12 months before they have a complete analysis of all of the data and come to a conclusion about what caused this terrible accident.

BOLDUAN: Have you been given any level of confidence that they're done combing the wreckage for potential victims?

TOOMEY: I don't have anything more to add than what the mayor said. It's an ongoing search and rescue operation. There are personnel on the scene continuing that effort.

BOLDUAN: Do you think it has moved more into the investigation of the cause?

TOOMEY: I think those are simultaneous. The search and rescue effort is ongoing, has been since minutes after the derailment, and the NTSB got here quite quickly. They've already taken away the data recording devices. They're probably already downloading that information. But that doesn't in any way impede the ongoing search and rescue effort.

BOLDUAN: Senator, it makes me think. The statement from the vice president came out saying it could have been you, it could have been me. It could have been any of our family members. The vice president obviously famously takes Amtrak. You ride Amtrak.

TOOMEY: I've ridden on that train.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. How does that hit you personally?

TOOMEY: Well, it's a reminder of the fragility of life. It's just a very, very sad reminder.

BOLDUAN: And a horrific scene.

TOOMEY: It is. It's a very frightening scene.

BOLDUAN: Senator Pat Toomey, I know you have to get back. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you, sir. Really appreciate it.

Brooke, as you can see, the senator kind of reiterating what we heard from the mayor himself of just how horrific the scene is. The senator had the unique opportunity to see it firsthand. They were able to take a tour of the site, him speaking before cameras a little earlier.

There was a question, you may not have been able to hear it during the press conference, talking about policy. I think the question also included a question about funding for Amtrak and what can be done or what should be done.

The senator himself, Mayor Nutter all saying, please give us the indulgence, the policy and politics, they want to hold that discussion later. For now they're squarely focused on making sure all the victims are recovered and that families are notified. They did not want to have that conversation today -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: As they should. It sounds like the appropriate response. Thank Senator Toomey for us. Kate Bolduan, thank you so much for being our eyes and ears on ground there in Philadelphia.

You heard the mayor saying he'll be briefing members of the media in a couple hours again. Meantime, we've talked about seven fatalities so far. That's the latest number we have so many injured.

Imagine being on the inside of several Philadelphia area hospitals and treating the people who were rushed in for help. We'll talk to two EMTs from Temple University coming up next here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:54:24]

BALDWIN: We're back now with new information just in to us here at CNN. We're talking now about the train you're looking at here, these cars just toppled over on their sides. This was Amtrak train 188. It was believed to have been going more than 100 miles an hour around that curve in a 50-mile-an-hour limit zone.

This is according to a source close to this investigation. Again, that's twice the recommended speed limit there. This is coming to us from a source. Officials have now confirmed seven people have died as a result of the crash.

Now I want to bring in Danielle Thor, EMT and director at Temple University EMS, and Sarah Paranich, associate director there. Ladies, welcome to you. I cannot even begin to imagine the night and wee hours of the morning.

[14:55:09] We need wonderful people like you helping treat those injured. Talk to me about, you know, when you start seeing some of those injured victims coming to you last night, what were you seeing?

DANIELLE THOR, EMT WHO RESPONDED TO DEADLY TRAIN DERAILMENT: Well, when we first got there, we saw a lot of the Philly vehicles, the vans that Philly P.D. uses, were bringing in just groups and groups of people. It sounds like a chaotic scenario, but the first thing we saw was a lot of the walking wounded, minor injuries. I think we saw a hip fracture, facial lacerations, several trauma traumas, but it was a wide variety, more or less.

SARAH PARANICH, EMT WHO RESPONDED TO DEADLY TRAIN DERAILMENT: Yes, we saw a lot of -- I saw one patient in particular who told me she was hanging upside down from the ceiling for close to half an hour before rescuers were even able to get to her.

She was complaining of severe abdominal pain and had a fractured hip and multiple other injuries. So it was really traumatic. It was a tough thing to listen to as well as see.

THOR: We also had another patient who began having a heart attack while we were transporting from the vehicle into the hospital. So just from the stress of the scenario, he had a pre-existing heart condition.

BALDWIN: A heart attack and hanging upside down. Just when you think you've heard all the stories, you haven't. What were they -- were they communicating with you? What stories were they telling you, recounting being on this train as it's flipping off the tracks?

PARANICH: They were terrified. There was a lot of anxiety, obviously. They said it sounded like a loud bang. They weren't even sure what was going on at first. It just sounded like a really loud explosion. Next thing you know, it just happened so fast. They were upside down and all over.

THOR: A lot of people kept saying the train crashed, the train crashed. That's all they really knew as far as what happened. It was hard for them to figure out their own surroundings though they were able to determine that they were at the hospital once they arrived.

BALDWIN: How young was the youngest person you treated?

PARANICH: The ages varied from, I'd say, 20s up to 70s, 80-year-olds. There also were a couple children that I saw that seemed to be more walking wounded than severely injured. But the ages really varied from very young to older folks.

THOR: Yes, thankfully we didn't see a lot of children, but there were a few. Like you said, a lot of young 20-somethings, a lot of older folks as well.

BALDWIN: That's why I was wondering. I was wondering if there were even kids on this train. What about just in sheer numbers? How many would you estimate between the two of you or your other colleagues at Temple treated and then of those, how many are still being treated today, most of them?

THOR: I would say probably about half of them are probably still being treated today. The total number that went through Temple hospital's doors was 57. Considering the timing, we probably saw the majority of them just while helping the hospital staff transport them into the triage zones and begin treatment.

BALDWIN: And when you all first found out, when you said you were first getting into work around 7:30 last night and sometime passed before the derailment happened, when you got the heads up you would start to see people coming in, did you have any idea? Did you have any clear heads up as far as how serious this was?

THOR: When we actually found out, we typically serve the main campus of Temple University, which is two subway stops south. By the time we found out, the plan had already been activated. We got as many of our personnel as possible up to the hospital to help out. Based on what we've been hearing from our dispatchers through Temple University police, we knew it was going to be a very serious incident.

BALDWIN: Final question, with the person you described who was hanging upside down from the ceiling and the individual who had a heart attack, are they OK?

PARANICH: I believe that my patient went into surgery and is, to my knowledge, doing OK. She was alert and oriented and conscious, aware of her surroundings when she arrived at the hospital. I believe her prognosis is fairly good at this point.

THOR: I'm honestly not sure of the prognosis of my patient. We handed them straight off to the physicians available to receive them.

BALDWIN: My goodness. Danielle Thor and Sarah Paranich, EMTs at Temple University Hospital, thank you so much, ladies. I really appreciate it. Great job.

THOR: No problem.

PARANICH: Thank you.

And we continue on, top of the hour, breaking news here on CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Any minute now, we heard from the mayor of Philadelphia with his news conference.