“It was chaotic for a little while, but Lexington County did an amazing job, considering the circumstances. We should have had a lot more causalities, but we didn’t.”
Meanwhile, dozens of passengers who survived the crash are streaming into a middle school gymnasium in West Columbia for food and shelter, according to the Red Cross.
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Authorities have opened Pine Ridge Middle School in West Columbia to feed and shelter the passengers. A local restaurant is feeding them eggs, grits and sausages. About 30 volunteers are assisting.
“They seem to be in fairly good spirits,” said Cuthbert Langley, a Red Cross spokesman for the South Carolina region. “They are, of course, on their cell phones communicating with their loved ones. But they seem to be doing OK, given the circumstances.”
Twenty-seven of the passengers suffered minor injuries and were brought to Lexington Medical Center. All but two were discharged by 11 a.m., said hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Wilson.
Amtrak said it is cooperating with the National Transportation Safety Board, which is leading the investigation of the crash.
“We are deeply saddened to report the death of two of our employees in this morning’s derailment in Cayce, South Carolina,” Amtrak said in a prepared statement. “Additionally, affected customers reporting injuries have been transported to local hospitals.”
People with questions about passengers who were on the train may contact Amtrak at 800-523-9101.