79 Counts Of Homicide: Francisco Garzon Charged In Spanish Train Derailment [VIDEO]
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Francisco Garzon, 52, was arrested on Thursday and in police custody until last night, when he was released after being charged. Garzon surrendered his passport and must report to the court weekly.
Garzon is suspected of driving the high-speed train too fast around a curve near the city of Santiago de Compostela, derailing the train so violently that one car was thrown upwards over an embankment.
Examining Magistrate Luis Alaez charged Garzon with "79 counts of homicide and numerous offences of bodily harm, all of them committed through professional recklessness."
In a closed-door hearing, Garzon, who has worked for Spanish rail company Renfe for 30 years, admitted to taking the curve too fast and blamed it on a momentary lapse. Moments after the crash, Garzon reportedly said to an emergency service over the phone that "I should've been going [49 mph] and I was doing [118 mph]." By the time Garzon applied the brakes, it was too late.
One of the survivors of the train crash, Stephen Ward, 18, of Utah, described the crash as being like a roller coaster.
"We had been going around some pretty sharp turns. We finally came to one more sharp turn, and the train, like, completely lifted up," Ward said. "It was leaning sideways. It felt like a roller coaster."
Ward blacked out and came to when rescuers helped him out of the train.
"I've got staples all over my scalp, I was covered in blood," said Ward, who suffered a cracked vertebra. "They've scrubbed most of it off me now, but everyone was just covered in their own blood and occasionally the blood of others. It was gruesome to say the least."
Tomorrow, the train's equivalent of an airplane's black box will be reviewed. The Spanish court is also looking into Garzon's cell phone records to see if Garzon was distracted by personal communications during the crash.
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