California Train Wreck Kills At Least 17

by Stephanie Stanton

NBC News

The death toll continues to rise after a tragic commuter train accident about 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

A Metrolink train was carrying about 220 people when it collided with a freight train late Friday afternoon.

"Within a flash, instantly I was in my friend's lap, everybody, it was so quick, it was devastating," said one passenger.
 
Among the dead is an LAPD officer who was a passenger on the commuter train.

In a show of respect at the scene fellow officers saluted the body of their fallen comrade.

Rescue crews worked through the afternoon and evening, pulling victims from the mangled passenger car while firefighters worked to put out the flames.

The mayor of Los Angeles called it the worst accident he's ever seen.

"This is a human tragedy that is beyond words. A horrific night this evening.  All city resources are being used in this rescue effort," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

It's a massive and complicated effort to rescue victims from a devastating commuter train crash that leaves authorities searching for answers.