Awakening to a nightmare: One man's account of deadly Amtrak crash

Amtrak's train 188 from Washington DC to New York City had been delayed for 15 minutes and was full as I searched for a seat on the last car Tuesday night.

 Everyone who was able-bodied was looking for a way to help the injured.

As I took my seat, a voice came on over the intercom assuring passengers that the hot and muggy cabin would cool down once the air conditioning was turned back on. I unwrapped my dinner from Chipotle carefully, worried that my lack of napkins would annoy the businessman sitting next to me, plugged in my iPhone, and relaxed. Later, when  my seat mate departed, I placed my laptop bag on his seat and closed my eyes.

The next thing I knew everything was shaking and, then, "Bam!" Darkness enveloped the car. Smoke and dust filled the air. The silence was deafening.

Dazed, I struggled to regain awareness of where we were, figure out what had happened and how I ended up on the other side of the train. Yet, I also knew none of that mattered. I was conscious, I could walk and nothing was broken.

I moved forward to the front of the car and saw the derailment's toll on passengers. A middle aged woman with blood all over her face, had lost her front teeth. An older woman was pinned to the ground and bleeding profusely.

As the shock subsided, I saw people spring into action. They guided passengers off the train, cleared walkways of stray baggage and the sharp metal from dislodged seats.

From my recollection there were more people looking to help than in need of help. That's not to say they weren't injured, just that they were leaders. Everyone who was able-bodied was looking for a way to help the injured. In a hectic moment, people embraced a servant's heart - and it helped calm the tragedy at that moment.

Outside, people snapped photos, speechless at the wreckage of train cars buckled and splayed along the track like a toy set gone off the rails. People called loved ones, others offered phones for those who lost all devices in the crash. This is where I landed.

My phone was missing and I knew my family and friends would be worried about me. I scrambled to borrow a phone to call my sister, who relayed the information to my father. Hours later, I was able to sleep knowing they knew I was safe.

But others were worried about me, too. It was their calls to me that helped me learn that during the crash my phone somehow floated into the purse of a woman named "Gabby." While I was take to Aria Health hospital, Gabby was transported to the  emergency room at Temple University Hospital. She realized she had my phone when her purse started ringing.

Through Facebook, several friends messaged me noting that they knew my phone, which is pretty much my life, was at the hospital. How that happened I still don't know.

But thank you Gabby for answering the random call that connected me to concerned friends and colleagues.

Caleb Bonham is the Editor-in-chief of, a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel and host of the award nominated YouTube series, The Caleb Bonham Show.