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The Amtrak train that “NBC Nightly News” producer Janelle Richards was traveling on Tuesday night was going fast — but no faster than the countless other times she has ridden the rails from Washington to New York, she said.

But at one point along the track in Philadelphia, just after 9 p.m., something went terribly wrong.

"All of a sudden I felt myself fly up in the train," Richards recounted to TODAY's Matt Lauer, describing a jolt that tossed her forward and back repeatedly.

"It happened all in an instant," she said. She added that she was unhurt but "operating on shock."

The derailment of Amtrak Regional Train 188 killed at least six people and injured more than 140 others. Richards said her car was still standing upright, and in the darkness she could see bloodied and bruised passengers.

Survivors worked together to pull the injured from the wreckage. Richards squeezed through an open door, and standing outside, she took in a wider view of the tangled train. "To me then," she said, "it looked like it was split in two almost."



— Erik Ortiz