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Amtrak Derailment in Washington; Multiple Fatalities in Derailment; Authorities Investigating Derailment. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired December 18, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:32] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King.
We begin the hour with sad, breaking news.
In Washington state, an Amtrak passenger train has derailed south of Tacoma and Seattle during the peak of rush hour out on the West Coast. The Pierce County Sheriff's Office says there are injuries and casualties reported, but we don't know any of the specifics just yet.
Photos taken now posted on social media, they're harrowing. They show a train dangling over Interstate 5. You see it right there. All southbound lanes have been blocked by this accident.
Let's get straight to some reporting from CNN's Stephanie Elam. She's in our Los Angeles bureau with the latest.
Stephanie, obviously a breaking news story, but what do we know so far?
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. It's -- I mean it's devastating looking at those pictures of that train hanging off the side of the highway.
What we know here is that this train was heading southbound. It's train 501. It's part of their Cascade service for Amtrak that has service from Seattle to Portland. Obviously, like you said, it's Interstate 5, which runs the length of the country here on the West Coast. This is a major thoroughfare that is dangling there.
From what we understand is, there are people that are injured and casualties as well as what we are understanding.
Amtrak service south of Seattle has been suspended as has the Interstate 5 has been shut down on the southbound lanes as well as they are dealing with this.
I also just want to let you know that the governor of Washington state, Governor Inslee, has also tweeted out. Let me just read that to you right now. It says, thank you to the first responders on the scene. We're praying for everyone on board the train and ask everyone to hold them in your thoughts. That is just coming out from the governor as well. But, still, obviously, lots of questions on what happened here. How
this happened. There's some concern this may have been one of the new trains for Amtrak. That's what we are looking into right now. Obviously not a lot of information at this point, John, but we continue to follow it.
KING: Stephanie Elam, you continue your reporting from the Los Angeles bureau. Please come back to us as you get new information.
Let's get straight to my next guest now, CNN transportation analyst Mary Schiavo. She joins me via Skype from South Carolina.
Mary, obviously, we're waiting, and you've been in the position in the government when one of the things are happen and you're waiting to get information. We have to be careful as we get information. But when you look at these pictures right here -- I hope you can see them, I'm not sure if you can given the Skype hookup right here, but when you see the train dangling over the track like this, when you hear what we -- the little bit we know so far, this Cascades train going south, what are your biggest questions or what can you conclude look at this at the moment?
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN TRANSPORTATION ANALYST: Well, I suppose the first thing that will come to everyone's mind, and I'm sure the NTSB investigators' minds, is this was the first day, according to the Amtrak schedule on their website, this was the first day of this new high speed service. This was a new train. A new run. It's highlighted on their website that it could make the journey faster. And to have this happen on its maiden voyage will be of huge interest to the NTSB. They will be looking at whether the tracks were sufficient for I believe the train was going 81 miles an hour. That's pretty high speed. It's not Japan Bullet train speed, but that's a fairly high speed.
There's a report that there was a vehicle on the track and you can't see that on an overpass. That wouldn't seem to make sense since it was on an overpass. But we don't know how much further ahead from these pictures the vehicle could have been.
And then they'll also be looking at, since Amtrak apparently does not own the track, was the track, you know, up for this high speed service? Does it have, probably not, positive train control? So there are just so many questions for the NTSB to start and I'm sure they're digging in already. I bet the team's already there.
KING: And as the team gets there, Mary, we're obviously waiting from local officials, they say there are casualties. We don't know if those are just injuries or worse. Obviously when you look at those pictures, it just raises your doubts that something right there -- the sheriff says multiple cars struck by the train. No motorist fatalities. That's from the sheriff out there as we try to piece this together. You see so many and God bless them, the first responders on the team there.
I was looking, just as were about to come to air, at the research on this so-called bypass project so they could have the trains go faster. What from your memory in government service, what would be the testing, if those are going to be the questions here, were these tracks properly tested? Were they safety, you know, markers, whether it's the lights or the flashing to keep people from being -- vehicles up on the tracks and the like, what are those procedures?
SCHIAVO: Exactly. You make a very, very good point. So many people think about the rails and are they in good alignment and are they able to handle the high speed trains? And -- but most -- a very important point also is whether there are whistles and signals and timing to give persons who are crossing the track further up, obviously not on an overpass, but further up if the warnings are sufficiently in advance, you know, what the whistle timing is. All of this is, of course, in the black box on the train. When the whistle was supposed to be sound, when it actually was sounded.
[12:05:02] But giving people warning to get off the track. Did the gates close soon enough if there was a vehicle on the track? All of that goes into planning for high speed rail as well.
And I did have a chance, at one point in my career, to do some work with Japan Rail. And for the Bullet trains in Japan, there is no point on those bullet train routes. Now, they go much faster than 81 miles an hour, but there's no point where the traffic actually crosses the train tracks on those Bullet trains, making their safety margins so much better where you don't have to intersect with cars and trucks and buses. Big difference.
KING: Mary Schiavo, appreciate your insights.
And, again, if any information comes in to you, please jump right back to us.
I want to move the conversation now, though, to Richard Beall. He's a railroad operations and safety experts. He joins us on the telephone.
Richard, just let me ask you straight upfront, are you able to see where you are these pictures of the train dangling over the highway?
RICHARD BEALL, RAILROAD OPERATIONS AND SAFETY EXPERT (via telephone): I'm looking at it right now.
KING: Right. And what -- just, your first glance, from your expertise, what are your questions?
BEALL: Well, this overpass obviously is over some sort of a highway there. And which would -- it looks like a girder bridge that they're hanging off of. Generally girder bridges of any type have guardrails on them. When I talk about guardrails, I'm not talking about the sides, I'm talking about the middle of the track that if wheels come off, the guardrails keep from wandering too far off of the track. And so I'm wondering what happened there.
And I keep hearing different ones talk about it. They may have struck something. So I'm wondering what that could be, whether if it was an automobile, something somebody placed on the track, like an act of sabotage, or whether it's something like a rock slide. KING: Richard, stay with us, please, if you can. I want to get back to
our CNN correspondent, Stephanie Elam, she's in our Los Angeles bureau and has some new reporting.
Stephanie, what's the latest?
ELAM: John, just looking at what some of the eyewitnesses there on the scene who saw this -- I mean imagine driving to work, you're driving down the 5 and a train derails right in front of you. They were seeing it before actually first responders were even there.
One woman, Danae Orlob, telling CNN that there was a semi-truck and also cars that were crushed under the train cars. Now, we did hear from the police department saying that there were no injuries or no deaths in those cars. But just letting -- just letting you paint the picture of what this would look like, she said, quote, we came around the corner and it had to just have happened. There were no police there yet. There was one link of the train off to one side and the other on the other side of the freeway.
But she says that when she came around that there were fire trucks, ambulances were racing to make their way there. Just to give you an idea of how this happened on the freeway as people are trying to make their way down this I-5 corridor o the southbound lanes.
Looking to get still more information on this one, John, but just giving you an idea of what people were seeing there on the ground.
KING: Stephanie Elam, appreciate that. And, please, stay with us. Continue your reporting and just raise your hand when we have more. We'll get it to our viewers as quickly as possible.
Richard Beall, railroad operations and safety expert, back with me on the phone.
Richard, you heard Mary Schiavo a bit earlier, I think, this is the cascades train. It's supposed to be running south. They're trying to move them at higher speeds. And this an inaugural run.
From your experience, what kind of testing, what kind of -- would there be trial runs with empty trains? What would have gone into this before -- before what we're watching unfold right now?
BEALL: Well, generally, when you do something like that on track that hasn't -- doesn't have passenger service or hasn't had it in a while or whatever, they would run a series of test trains in advance that wouldn't have people on it or anything to see what they could do to maintain schedules, to see what they could do about different places where there might be restrictions on the track, slow orders, slow orders on curves, all kinds of different things like that. I wouldn't suspect that this would be the first train ever over it. But I'm understanding there were passengers on this train. Is that what you understand?
KING: Yes, the sheriff says there are passengers on the train and it left this morning, early this morning, on the inaugural run. It was supposed to be heading south on this train from Seattle heading down toward Portland is what we were told. That's what the Amtrak website says was the path of this train.
Richard, I may be asking a bit too much, but just from your expertise, when you look at these pictures, the way the train is over the edge like this, the two cars side by side there, just, tell me from your expertise, what jumps out in your mind in terms of what the observations you can make from what you see or the questions you have based on what you see.
BEALL: Well, I'm -- boy, this is real speculation but it is something catastrophic took place. I saw one picture where the locomotive looked like it was upright. So if it struck something on the track, I would have expected to see the locomotive peeled off to the side somewhere.
But this looks like it's definitely back in the train. So whatever happened, whether the locomotive got over or got past whatever they struck, a lot of times the locomotive, if they strike something, will damage the rails, spread the rails, cause a rail to become broken and a lot of the damage comes from behind. The engine will get over it most of the time. And that may be what took place here, but that's pure speculation.
[12:10:19] KING: Right. And I want to apologize to our viewers. We're taking live feeds here from our affiliates out in the area on the scene. Sometimes the cameras pull away. We have no control over that. So obviously our affiliates are trying to provide us with the best coverage possible here, showing the traffic aftermath, as well as the crash aftermath.
Richard, appreciate your insights. I hope you can standby for us.
I want to bring Larry Mann, who's an attorney and a rail expert. He authored the Federal Railroad Safety Act into the conversation.
Larry, again, we're in the early moments here. The Pierce County sheriff says there are some injuries here. We don't know the extent of that. We don't know how serious they are. We don't know how many they are.
I just want to ask you, Larry, if you're looking at these pictures, just, what jumps out in your head, your initial reaction, when you see obviously the heavy trauma to this train dangling over the tracks down onto the highway.
LARRY MANN, ATTORNEY AND RAIL EXPERT (via telephone): Well, the initial view of a derailment would be to look at the track to see if there were track defects. The next thing that I would look at would be the speed of the train. You're dealing with an inaugural movement - this is the first time this type of train movement has occurred. Speed and track are the two main things at the moment. You would look at, of course, the NTSB and the Federal Railroad Administration would be reviewing the so-called black box which contains all of the data of the train movement. At this point, though, it's just too early to determine anything. But those are the two issues I would be looking at initially. KING: It is correct. And I appreciate that. Everyone, we need to be
careful in what we say here given that we're trying to get information as to exactly what happened.
KING: But, Larry, given your expertise, this is the inaugural run of this train. They've been trying to increase the speed on the Cascade route out there on the West Coast. What would have happened -- again, I asked this of Richard earlier, I'm just trying to get at, what would have happened or what should have happened before this? If your question after a derailment is, was there some impediment on the track or was there some defect with the track or was there some safety issue where there weren't the proper alarms to clear the track beforehand, what would have, should have been done beforehand?
MANN: Well, since this is an inaugural run, there should have been test runs of the speed of the train to determine the safety of the operation. I assume that was accomplished. But certainly with an initial run like this, with high speed, you certainly would have test runs under the exact same conditions.
KING: Appreciate your insights, Larry. I hope you can stay on with us as well.
Just for any viewers joining us late, you're looking there on a split screen. This is a scene in Pierce County, Washington. An Amtrak train heading south from Seattle to Portland, a derailment there. You see the car dangling. That's Interstate 5 running north/south in the Pacific Northwest along the West Coast. The train car dangling over the track there.
As we try to get more information, the sheriff says there are some injuries or some casualties. We don't know the extent of that. We should remember, remind you, this derailment happened in the peak of Monday morning rush hour on the West Coast. Drivers on the interstate say what they saw was beyond sobering.
Here's what one eyewitness told CNN just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANAE ORLOB, WITNESS: Well, so I was on the opposite way. So I'm far away from it now. But we came around the corner and it's sobering to say the least. It was -- you know, we were casually carpooling, having a fun conversation and you just knew, when you saw it, that something horrible happened, especially because it was a passenger train. You know, there were cars on both sides of the bridge falling onto the freeway.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Cars on both sides.
ORLOB: And crushing vehicles.
BOLDUAN: So it's not just this one angle that -- not just this one angle that we see. There's cars on one side of the bridge falling off and on the other side of the bridge as well?
ORLOB: Yes. And there's vehicles underneath those cars.
BOLDUAN: Can you -- what types of vehicles? There are cars -- are they crushed by them or just impacted by them? What did you see?
ORLOB: Crushed. They -- there appear to be -- it looked like a semi and a passenger truck that was underneath the whole front end smashed in. I mean it was a very brief moment, but that's what it looked like to me.
BOLDUAN: It just must be terrifying. Did you see anyone -- did you see anyone that seemed injured? Did you see any people walking about when you were -- when you were -- when you were there?
ORLOB: There were people getting out of their cars that were stuck in traffic. That's all I could see. There were no first responders when I was there. But just an incredible amount of first responders headed that way as we continued down the freeway.
BOLDUAN: Did you -- when you --
ORLOB: When we knew it was bad.
[12:15:02] BOLDUAN: When you came upon it, were they already dangling off or did you hear anything?
ORLOB: They were already dangling off. I imagine if we hadn't stopped to get gas, that we probably would have been there when it happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: An eyewitness account from Danae Orlob there, who also put some pictures on social media.
Richard Beall and Larry Mann, I believe, are still with me on the telephone as we watch this.
Richard, I'm a layman. I listen to that account, someone who got there as the car was already dangling. And it's obviously a harrowing scene and you see the first responders in the live photos we're getting now and some tape that we've turned of the live scene. Anything from that account, given your technical expertise, jump out at you?
BEALL: No, there's nothing there that would do anything. And what we can't see, what I have not been able to see, is an aerial view to tell whether that track is totally straight on approach and across that bridge, or whether they were just coming out of a curve or that type of thing. That can play an important part.
But this man was right earlier on, you always look for three things. You look for track first, you look for mechanical problems with the train itself, or then human error, crew error.
KING: And Mr. Mann is still with us. Again, when I look at these pictures, the one on the right there with the train cars dangling over the highway, it's obviously twisted metal involved there. For trauma -- I'm calling it trauma, please help me with the technical term for this in a train derailment situation -- but when you see that trauma, the twisted medal, the car dangling down, what does that tell you, if anything, about what happened?
Larry, are you still with us.
MANN: Yes. Yes.
Well, John, if this were an issue or if it is an issue of employee error, it is very important that there should have been two persons on the locomotive to assist in case there was an error involved. For example, if the train was going at excessive speeds under the conditions, a second crew member on the locomotive would have been aware of this and alerted the engineer. So it is critical to have, particularly in high speed train operations, to have two persons in the locomotive.
KING: And on an inaugural run, the website says this was the inaugural run of the faster service. On an inaugural run, do either of you know, Richard or Larry, is it Amtrak procedure to have extra personnel on hand just because it's the first time out, extra safety personnel or backup personnel just to keep an eye on things?
MANN: I doubt that they did.
BEALL: There's no way to tell. On an inaugural run, it's very possible they would have had more than one person up in the cab.
KING: The sheriff -- I'm sorry, gentlemen, to interrupt. The sheriff is speaking live. Let's listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now we know that we have multiple fails in the train. No fatales on the roadway. As you can see by the large response, we've extricated. The fire departments have many people and have taken them out of the train and have been transported to hospitals. People that were able to walk are down under those tents being cared for by multiple groups.
It's going to be a long time. There's damage to the bridge. There's damage to multiple vehicles down below. Damage to the ground around it. So I-5 southbound will probably be closed for quite some time.
QUESTION: Can you tell (INAUDIBLE) a little bit later what you have heard about any injuries, casualties on the train (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, about 7:40 this morning the train derailed. Multiple agencies are responding. When we got to the scene, it was obvious that there were some fatalities and there were a lot of injuries, and some people were able to get off the train. Multiple cars and trucks were struck by cars that left the train tracks and went down onto the road. The people that were in all the vehicles, even though when you see the pictures it's pretty horrific, at this point nobody in any of the vehicles is fatal. The fatals are all contained to the train.
As far as the numbers go, they're still working on that.
What caused it to derail will be up to the NTSB. But what we do know is southbound I-5 is completely closed and will be for quite some time.
QUESTION: And you mentioned the train derailed at about 7:40 this morning. Was there any traffic on the rails before that, around that time?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know anything that -- when it comes to the rails yet what's going on. Yes. So this is -- what you're seeing is what it is. And on the other side of that bridge, there's three or four more cars that are upside down on the road and in the woods.
QUESTION: And you mentioned there are some people who have been able to walk off the train where they are right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Most of the people that have walked off the train are being cared for and transportation is coming to take care of them.
QUESTION: And that's where they are in those tents that we're seeing behind us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Right.
QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about what we're seeing behind us where people are being treated?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, one of the things -- we train for this all the time. I mean we have Air Force bases and train tracks and ferries and so this is a multiple agency response, a very coordinated response between multiple fire departments, JBLM, Thurston County, Pierce County and they're all working in a pre-planned operation, which is to get the survivors out, get the injured to the hospitals and, obviously, if there's fatals, they'll have to deal with those later.
[12:20:19] QUESTION: And as a point of clarification, I may have missed it but it's early on, but do you have any idea -- when you say multiple fatalities, does that mean dozens or does that mean --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point we're just told there's multiple fatalities. What that means, I don't know. I've heard a lot of different numbers. So we're not confirming anything until somebody does it.
QUESTION: Do you know how many cars are involved on the train?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang on a sec. What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, so that was Ed Toyer (ph) with the Pierce County Sheriff's Office.
KING: You heard one of the -- a spokesman for the sheriff's department out there.
Mary Schiavo is with us. If you listened, Mary, the briefing right there, sad briefing. Multiple fatalities aboard the train. Multiple injuries but no fatalities down on the highway, Interstate 5 below. The gentleman making an obvious point, but an important point, Interstate 5 South will be closed for quite some time.
When you hear that -- obviously sad news any time, but especially in the holiday week, multiple fatalities on the train. You see the records right there, Mary. What are your questions at this moment as they try to now advance right now the first responders on the scene, priority one is deal with the injured, get them the treatment and care they need. But from an investigative standpoint, what are you thinking?
SCHIAVO: Well, from an investigative standpoint, there's been a lot of conflicting news and, of course, a lot of people are guessing as to what might have happened. But the speed reports are vastly different. Some reports have put the train going at its high speed, the track rated at 79 miles an hour. Some reports say the train was going, you know, 80 miles an hour. Some say it was only going 40. And so that would have a huge difference on the investigation.
With this many cars derailed -- and at first it looked like there was just one on the ground and one dangling. But with this report that there are additional cars on the ground, upside down, mangled, one would expect, you know, a fair amount of speed on that train. And you would think that it would be moving at a good clip, at a higher rate of speed. So the speed's going to be an issue. And the guardrails, the signaling, the warning, the track itself, who owns it,, what the maintenance was, whether it had positive train control to regulate the speed.
For example, if it was going 81 miles an hour, as one report said, and it's a 79 mile an hour track, people want to know why. Why wasn't the speed regulated or the 2 miles an hour should not make a difference. And so those are a lot of things right where they'll start, but they have the advantage. This was a new day for the train service. This was new service. They will have black boxes on that train, which will have captured the speed, the signaling and exactly what transpired to set this off.
KING: And to that point, Mary, there's often, in a breaking news situation like this, right after a tragic derailment, any tragedy of any kind, you do get conflicting reports. And so there will be conflicting reports in the media. There will be conflicting reports from eyewitness who may be in a different position and see things differently. But there is zero doubt in your mind that the instrumentation exists, that once they get to that train and grab the instrumentation, the black boxes and the like, that they'll be able to put those pieces together about the speed and the other big questions pretty quickly, right?
SCHIAVO: Oh, absolutely. They'll put -- the speed certainly and whether there was anything on the track they should know. The exact condition of the track, whether it was out of alignment. You know, there's a possibility, I suppose, of tampering. But there's been no hint to that at this point.
Some of those things really can't be captured on the black box, which can -- which captures things like the throttle settings, when the braking was applied, when the whistle sounded, any movement on the throttle, forward or back, any automatic braking, signaling et cetera, that will all be on the black boxes on the train. Pretty much like a black box on a plane. It's extremely valuable.
Excellent perspective, Mary. We appreciate it. We're grateful to have your assistance right now. Please stand by if you can.
KING: Let's bring in our correspondent, Rene Marsh.
Rene, what can you tell us about this particular Amtrak train?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Right.
So, John, we've been digging into this and we have been on the phone with both Amtrak as well as the NTSB. And I can tell you at this hour, the NTSB continues to gather information. But I've got to tell you, when you look at those images there, I would have to believe that they would plan on launching an investigation. However, we have not received that official word from them as yet.
But more about this train. The Amtrak Cascades train. You know, this particular train, we do know is designed specifically for high speeds. We know that it features this special technology that essentially it uses gravity to basically tilt it through curves while it maintains that speed. And the intention here essentially was to make sure that you can shorten travel time, make it a lot faster for you to get from Seattle to let's say Portland, Oregon It shortened that travel time by about 25 minutes. So that's the lowdown on that particular train, the Amtrak Cascade.
[12:25:06] But, obviously looking at those images there, one of the things that they're going to want to do is get that black box. The black box will not only talk about the speed of the train at the time of the derailment, but it will also give them good information about what was the engineer doing at that time? Were the brakes applied? Were all of the things that they -- the engineer needed to do, did that person do all of that?
Kind of hard to piece this all together. I know everyone wants to know what happened here. The true honest answer is, we really are not going to know until, number one, we start speaking to some of the people on board that train. Number two, you want to speak to the engineer. And, number three, investigators have to get out there and get those black boxes. Until we get all that information, we're going to be looking at this image, which is really tough to look at considering you know people were in the train. But we're not going to have many answers until they do all three of those things, John.
KING: Rene Marsh, please continue your great reporting and come back to us when you have more information.
I should also note, we're told the new secretary of homeland security here in Washington, D.C., has been briefed on this and we're sure she's asking questions as well. As Rene notes, the National Transportation Safety Board headquartered in Washington will get an investigative team to the scene as quickly as possible.
Our correspondents around the country are trying to report on this.
Let's bring in CNN's Paul Vercammen from Los Angeles.
Paul, what are you hearing as you try to canvas local authorities to try to get new information?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, at first there was this report of massive casualties. It's hard to put that in context. And then we saw it sort of ratcheted down to multiple fatalities. Of course everybody's hoping against hope that massive doesn't mean, let's say, you know, dozens or more fatalities.
One thing that's unique, of course, to train travel, as opposed to, let's say, a vehicle accident, is the passengers usually are not belted in. And so when the sheriff was giving this context, or the spokesman, he said that the casualties would have occurred on the train. He said despite how absolutely stunning these pictures are, of this derailment, of this train, landing on cars, on very busy Interstate 5, he said that there were no casualties in the vehicles.
So now the focus is going to turn to the train. Others also reporting this is one of the largest responses they've seen from emergency vehicles, ambulances and the like that they've ever seen. And, of course, triage is a big, important part of this right now. How many lives could be saved because of quick response. Again, John, the headline, though, no casualties on the ground, in the cars that were driving on the interstate, but casualties inside the train itself.
KING: Paul Vercammen joining us, helping with the reporting from Los Angeles. Paul, appreciate that.
I want to bring Mary Schiavo back into the conversation.
Mary, we ask for your technical experience all the time and your experience from prior investigations. This is just more of a gut, when you just hear the reporting and you heard from the sheriff's spokesman a bit earlier, fatalities on the train. You see the violence there of that car dangling over the highway. At least initially, the spokesman was saying, that there are some injuries, but no fatalities on that highway at rush hour. Interstate 5 just below. When you look at the pictures, is that -- I hate to say it this way, a small blessing when you look at the pictures and you see that car dangling like that and the other car below it on the highway?
SCHIAVO: An amazing, fortuitous, you know, blessing for the people on the ground because -- and we can't see it. There had been reports of an additional car or two as well out of the range of some of those pictures, beyond the underpass. So for the folks on the ground who have avoided fatal injuries is really remarkable. I mean it's just -- you know, thank heavens for those folks.
The train cars themselves, though, I mean what typically happens to the passengers, they're not belted -- since they're not belted in, they, you know, they move about freely. You don't have to be in a seat. We see a lot of head injuries often, of fatal head injuries, spine injuries, those kinds of things, when the trains derail and so that's what the emergency responders are probably focusing on and trying to triage those and sort out those with head injuries that can be transported and hopefully more saved.
KING: Mary, I know you're joining us via Skype. I just want to double check, can you see these images on your screen right now?
SCHIAVO: I can. I can.
KING: If so I just want to -- you can?
SCHIAVO: I can.
KING: I just want to ask -- I just want to ask the control room to go back through those photos we just had from the Pierce County Sheriff's Office just to show some of the broken pieces here when you go through this. There you see the train car dangling down. You see another one down below.
If you look underneath the highway overpass, this is what I wanted to ask you about right here. Please freeze that for me right there. This is -- now you see broken pieces. Obviously this is down below. You see the highway guardrail there. That's not a railway guardrail. That's down on the roadway. For that to break off a train as it comes down, does that tell you anything about whether it's a speed question or whether it's a violence of the fall question?
SCHIAVO: Well, actually, not, because there's been a lot of issues lately with the integrity of the guardrails themselves. I mean there are just so many pieces here that the NTSB will have to look at.
[12:30:07] I mean when I was inspector general, for example, we worked number -- a number of fraud cases where the guardrails themselves were faulty.