Surviving the Chatsworth Metrolink Accident

Uploaded by CalStateNorthridge on 11.09.2009

<i>(background music plays as voice-over starts)</i> My name is Bea Watts.
I am an administrative support coordinator in the Admissions & Records office. I've been on campus for 21 years.
It was Friday, September 12th, a nice, sunny day. I had a good day at work.
I had a good lunch. I played ultimate frisbee at lunch with my co-workers. I had a great game.
And I left work about 3:30 that day for the Metrolink station to take the train home to Simi Valley.
I decided to sit at a seat on the train that had a table. I had never done that. That was my first time.
But it looked like a nice quite place to sit, relax and read a magazine.
So, I sat there and read my magazine and not long after that...
Chaos hit. My body was thrown... around. I remember that when I was being thrown, I was getting ready
to do a sommersault, and I was thinking I need to tuck my head under so I don't break my neck.
I called my husband. I told him the train crashed. And I told him that I wasn't sure if I was OK.
I told him my final goodbye's. I told him to tell the kids how much I loved them. I told him I loved him, and I hung up.
I couldn't find my shoe, and I remember my husband telling me, "you need to get off the train in case it catches fire and blows up."
I saw one of my co-workers, Eric Forbes. He helped me get off the train.
I wasn't able to walk very far because I started to lose my vision, and I just wasn't feeling good.
Probably within 5 minutes, I saw this bicycle roll out of somebody's backyard, and I looked up.
And it was my husband. And I just felt like he was there to rescue me.
I was kind of shifted around from one triage to the next traige, from the less serious to the more serious,
for I believe it was about 2 hours. I was in and out of conciousness during that time.
We saw my neighbor who was a fire captain for Burbank. He put me on the helicopter.
And I remember landing on the roof of Cedars-Sinai Hospital, and I remember being wheeled into emergency.
And the doctor put two hands on my stomach gently, and I screamed really bad because it was so painful.
The doctor yelled out some words and told me I was going into surgery.
I guess I was on life support. I was in a coma for probably a good 5 to 7 days.
My injuries are a fractured back, an aneurysm in the right carotid artery and my pancreas was shattered in pieces.
The doctors were able to save a quarter of the pancreas, and my body's fully functioning, which is just a miracle.
While I was in the hospital, a lot of families brought meals to my house for my family, and they helped out with my kids.
Other people on campus donated their sick and vacation hours to keep me off of work.
And I got so many hours donated that it was enough to keep me out for a year. I just thought that was great.
That was really neat the way everyone pulled together to come out and help us. We were deeply touched by that.
I was off of work for 6 months. They had a really nice "welcome back" party for me.
Some of the days were really hard. I find myself on my way to work just crying, and I think, just the whole accident is
starting to catch up to me. I think I've been so busy trying to heal my body that I haven't had time to do deal with the emotional issues.
I'm learning how to trust any and everything around me again. Everywhere I go I feel like I need to scan the whole place
to make sure it's safe to be there. Or if something were to happen, I need to have some sort of escape route in my head
But things are definitely getting better. It's just taking time, and that's really frustrating.
I'd like to just thank the entire campus for all the love and support, their continued support.
I'm still going through a lot on a day to day basis. And people are just always willing to help me in any way.
And I'm just so grateful for that.
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