South Carolina Amtrak train crash victim Samuel Rodriguez and several members of his family have retained attorney Chris Davis of Seattle-based Davis Law Group to represent them in legal action against Amtrak and CSX for injuries sustained in the crash.
At around 2:45 a.m. Sunday, February 4, 2018 an Amtrak train bound for Miami, Florida struck a CSX freight train near Columbia, South Carolina in Lexington County. There were approximately 148 people aboard the Amtrak Train 91, including 139 passengers and 8 crew members. The train was traveling at an estimated speed of 59 mph at the time of the crash. Two people were killed and 116 others injuried.
Amtrak officials claim that CSX is to blame, saying the signal system run was down at the time and CSX dispatchers were manually routing trains.
Immediately following the deadly train accident near Columbia, South Carolina Samuel Rodriguez shared the horrifying experience with journalists from the New York Times, Boston Globe, and numerous other media outlets. Below is a compilation of a few of those interviews.
The train departed New York on Saturday, the day before the accident.
Samuel Rodriguez, an unemployed metalworker from Brownsville, Brooklyn, was traveling from New York state to Port Richey, Florida to look for new job opportunities—to start a new life. He and has family were moving. Everything they owned was on the train.
Samuel was traveling with his girlfriend, their toddler and his mother. Rodriguez was sitting next to his mother, Yolanda, near the rear of the third or fourth Amtrak train car.
Rodriguez had been napping and woke up just prior to the crash. He thought that the train was moving faster than it had earlier in the trip.
He said the conductor made an announcement over the loud speaker telling passengers that the train was running behind schedule because of freight trains in front of them.
He mentioned to his mother how fast he felt the train was moving was moving right before the brakes activated. Just as he finished the sentence he felt the train jerk violently.
“It was amazing, right when I said that, the car just started going crazy and it was just shaking back and forth,” he said.
“It just started shaking, you could actually feel the cars hitting the back of the train,” said Rodriguez.
He saw a toddler fly in the air. His mother's face smacked into the seat in front of her. The seat directly in front of him twisted sideways.
“Everybody was in shock,” he said.
Screams of pain were followed by what Rodriguez called a chilling quiet. Then the train car began to fill with smoke.
“Smoke. Screaming. I went to pick up one kid, checked my mother out to see if she was all right: ‘Ma, you all right? Don’t move.’”
“That’s when I went between aisles, and I saw a kid bleeding all over, his skull was showing, and his mother was in shock. So I run to the back, try to get to the bathroom. Bathroom’s tore up, toilet bowl’s out, everything’s a disaster."
Rodriguez had unsuccessfully tried to work with two different Florida-based law firms before hiring Davis Law Group. Rodriguez found that most attorneys do not have any experience working with Amtrak victims. He and his family were having trouble getting medical treatment and were given misinformation by their former lawyer. Frustrated with the situation, he reached out to Davis Law Group in Seattle because he learned that they were working with numerous other Amtrak accident victims. The firm immediately went to work on the case.