Spain Train Accident Death Toll Rises To 79 As Witness Says Driver 'Wanted To Die'
The death toll from Spain's train derailment has now risen to 79 after an injured passenger died in a hospital Sunday, a spokeswoman from the regional government of Galicia said.
While speaking at the University Hospital complex in Santiago de Compostela, the spokeswoman confirmed the fatality to The Associated Press but did not identify the victim.
However, Spanish national broadcaster RTVE said the person was an American woman.
According to a local resident, the driver spoke to him minutes after the train derailed and revealed that he had been going fast and couldn't brake.
Evaristo Iglesias told Antena 3 television in an interview broadcast Sunday that he and another person accompanied the blood-soaked Francisco Jose Garzon Amo to a stretch of flat ground where other injured people were being laid out, waiting for emergency services to arrive.
"He told us that he wanted to die," Iglesias said.
"He said he had needed to brake but couldn't," Iglesias said. He added that Garzon said "he had been going fast."
The television channel showed a photograph of Iglesias in a pink shirt and cap helping carry the driver after the Wednesday accident in Santiago De Compostela.
It also aired television footage of Iglesias working beside the wrecked train to help other survivors.
Garzon has been released from the hospital and is in police custody on suspicion of negligent homicide. He is expected to give testimony to an investigating judge later Sunday, though he exercised his right to remain silent when police tried to interview him.
The judge will also have access to information contained in the train's "black box," which is similar to those found on aircraft.
The train carrying 218 passenger in eight cars blazed far over the speed limit into a high-risk curve, tumbling off the tracks and slamming into a concrete wall, with some of the cars catching fire.
Authorities have pointed to speed as the culprit, and officials have said that the brakes should have been applied four kilometers (2.5 miles) before the train hit the curve.
Investigators must determine if Garzon failed to apply the brakes or whether it was a technical failure.
Iglesias was among survivors and witnesses who began to give evidence to police on Sunday.
Meanwhile, authorities said forensic experts have identified the last three bodies among the dead. They did not reveal the names of the dead, but said Sunday that all of the families had been notified.
Mourning continued throughout Spain, with Sunday church services being held in remembrance of the dead.
A large funeral mass is planned for Monday afternoon, and the prime minister and royal family are expected to attend.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.
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