'First thought was I wasn't going to make it:' NC woman said about deadly Amtrak crash

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- As investigators work to determine why a switch was in the wrong position, causing an Amtrak train to crash into a freight train, North Carolinians who were on the train are trying to recover from the experience.

A crash between an Amtrak passenger train and a CSX freight train near South Carolina's capital killed two people and injured nearly 116 early Sunday.

Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a news conference Sunday afternoon that the track the Amtrak train was on had been manually switched and "lined and locked."

It caused it to divert from the main line and onto a side track, where the freight train was parked.

READ MORE: Investigators: SC Amtrak train crash was preventable

Several people were on the train from the North Carolina area.

Gloria and Walt Johnson, live in Angier and were on the train - which stopped in Raleigh - headed to Miami for a two-week vacation.

Gloria said both she and her husband were ejected from their seats from the impact.

"First thought was I wasn't going to make it, this was the end for me."

"I saw her laying in the aisle crying, and I was scrambling to get back to her," Walt added.

Gloria said she when she was thrown out of her seat she hit her head and couldn't get up.

She said someone helped her up and took her away in a wheelchair.

Walt said he's pretty banged up from the crash.

"When I landed, my knees hit both sides, and I got a little scratches on my legs, I messed my knees up. I'm very sore, they told me nothing is broken, but it don't feel like it."

EMBED More News Videos

Passengers on derailed Amtrak train speak out

Matthew Cheeseman along with his wife and 9-year-old daughter were also on the train.

Cheeseman is the Superintendent of the Perquimans County School District in Herford.

They boarded the train at the Henderson Amtrak station and were on their way to Disney.

Cheeseman said they were in a sleeper car when the crash happened.

"We remember being thrown out of our seats onto the floor with a lot of metal coming down around us. We remember the lights going off, the smell of smoke, and just being banged around."

Amazingly, no one in the Cheeseman family suffered major injuries.

Matthew said his back has a long carpet burn on it from being thrown from the seats in the sleeper car but said he will be OK.

He said the response from emergency officials was amazing and he can't thank everyone enough. After renting a car, he said they finally made it to Florida and are hoping they can enjoy some family time with their loved in in Florida.
Copyright © 2019 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.