Spain train driver told helpers he 'wanted to die' after deadly crash

The driver of the train that crashed killing 79 people in Spain last week told a local man who helped him that he "wanted to die."

Evaristo Iglesias, who was pictured with others helping the injured Francisco Garzon, 52, after the crash, told BBC News that the driver kept repeating the same words.

"He'd rather be dead than see the damage he had caused," Iglesias said, adding that Garzon said he had "tried to slow down, but it was too late."

Security video of the crash appeared to show the train speeding on a tight curve. The driver reportedly spoke by telephone with the train operator's emergency service shortly after the crash and said: "I should've been going 80 (49 mph) and I was doing 190 (118 mph),"according to Spanish daily El Pais.


Garzon, who had been under arrest since Thursday but was released Sunday, was formally charged with 79 counts of reckless homicide, Reuters reported.

A memorial service was planned Monday in memory of the victims. The ceremony was due to take place at 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, the city in northwestern Spain where the high-speed train derailed Wednesday, the eve of a city festival and pilgrimage.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, several ministers and the King's children, Prince Felipe and Infanta Elena, will attend.

Seventy people remain in hospital, with 22 in critical condition, Reuters reported.

Myrta Fariza, 58, of Houston, Texas, died in hospital from her injuries Sunday, taking the number of Americans killed in the accident to two and the total death toll to 79.

She was traveling with her husband, Robert, to her daughter’s wedding when the accident happened.

"Myrta was our loving wife, mother, sister, mother-in-law, aunt and friend and words cannot express our sense of loss," said a statement released by her family. "To all who knew her, Myrta provided irreplaceable love, compassion, courage, friendship and support. We will miss her dearly."

Days before his wife died, Robert Fariza described the moments leading up to the tragedy. He said that with only a few minutes left until its 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."

A Virginia woman, Ana-Maria Cordoba, was also killed in the derailment.

Cordoba worked as a benefits specialist for the Arlington Diocese of the Catholic church and was one of a number of pilgrims on the train heading for the city's annual festival of St James.

All the festivities were canceled as Spain entered three days of national mourning. 

Local magistrate Luis Alaez formally charged Garzon with "79 counts of homicide and numerous offences of bodily harm, all of them committed through professional recklessness," according to a court statement reported by Reuters.

Among conditions of his release, Garzon was ordered to surrender his passport and check in regularly with the court.

None of the parties in the case, which include state train operator Renfe, state railway firm Adif and two insurance companies, had asked for Garzon to be jailed pending trial, and he was not seen as a flight risk, the court statement said.

Garzon has worked for Renfe for 30 years, 10 as a driver. His father also worked for the service and he grew up in Renfe-owned housing in northwestern Spain, Reuters said.

NBC News' Jamieson Lesko, and Reuters, contributed to this report.