A Houston woman injured when a Spanish train derailed at high speed Wednesday has died, her family said Sunday, as a judge prepared to question the train's driver to determine to what extent he was responsible for the deaths of nearly 80 people in the accident.
Myrta Fariza, 58, of Houston, Texas, was traveling with her husband, Robert, when the train derailed after speeding around a tight curve in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, according to a statement released by her family.
"Myrta was our loving wife, mother, sister, mother-in-law, aunt and friend and words cannot express our sense of loss," the statement reads. "To all who knew her, Myrta provided irreplaceable love, compassion, courage, friendship and support. We will miss her dearly."
The driver, Francisco Garzon, 52, was detained and put under formal investigation Thursday after security footage showed that he was traveling at more than twice the 80 km per hour (49 mph) permitted on the curve going into the city of Santiago when the Alvia train careered off the track and plowed into a wall.
After the train flew off the tracks, Garzon reportedly spoke by telephone with the train operator's emergency service and said: "I should've been going 80 (49 mph) and I was doing 190 (118 mph)," according to Spanish daily El Pais.
Garzon has been held by police on suspicion of reckless homicide. Although he has yet to be formally charged by a magistrate, Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez said Saturday that there was sufficient evidence to charge Garzon with reckless homicide, according to Reuters.
70 people were still hospitalized Sunday with injuries from the crash, which pulverized the train and set some of the carriages ablaze. 31 of those patients remained in critical condition, Reuters reported.
Days before his wife died, Robert Fariza described the moments before the tragedy. He said that with only a few minutes left until his destination, the train was travelling at a high speed.
"Where everyone started knowing something had gone wrong was the fact that it started to flip," Fariza said. "Once it took that curve, it just took just like an 18-wheeler, so it took a very strong curve for it to flip over, and that's what actually happened in our car."
Fariza said the train car he and his wife were in flipped over.
"It became chaos, things flew and everything, it was sudden darkness and I was kind of thrown on one side of the train and that's why I'm kind of all kinds of beaten up here, and my wife, unfortunately, she was sitting on the side where the train flipped over, so everything kind of fell on her," he said.
A Virginia woman, Ana-Maria Cordoba, was also killed in the derailment, according to NBCWashington.com. Cordoba worked as a benefits specialist for the Arlington Diocese.
Cordoba was traveling with her husband and daughter, now listed in stable condition at a local hospital according to the Catholic News Service.
Catherine Chomiak, Becky Bratu, Alastair Jamieson, Brinley Bruton and Jason Cumming of NBC News contributed to this report. Reuters also contributed.
First published July 28 2013, 12:24 PM