NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A mother and daughter from Long Island survived Tuesday’s deadly Amtrak derailment and described a terrifying chain of events to CBS2’s Valerie Castro.

“I’m going to put it up there as the worst tragedy of my life,” said Theresa Imperato.

Imperato says it all happened in a matter of seconds — one moment she was facing forward in the third train car with her 12-year-old-daughter Maggie, the next she described as follows:

“Tumble tumble, she went flying one way, I went flying another way and she landed in the baggage carrier. I was on the floor which was now a window.”

“All I can remember was flying out of my seat and grabbing hold of this guy’s shirt,” said Maggie. “I don’t even know who he was, just grabbing hold of it.”

The pair said they found their way through an emergency window, and Maggie began to guide those with serious injuries out, Castro reported.

“There were people who could barely walk, there were people who had broken shoulders, broken legs and so I was like, ‘Go this way, here’s a clear path for you,'” said Maggie.

The NTSB confirmed the train was hurling down the tracks at more than 100 mph and Imperato wants to know why.

“When we hit that bump, I said,’Oh my God we’re going over and my brain … my Maggie.”  “I’m like ‘Why are we not slowing down?’ It just felt like we were speeding up.'”

Imperato has an injured leg and other bruising around her body. She’s grateful she’s now home with her daughter, Castro reported.

“Thank God we’re here,” said Imperato.

She wonders if different safety measures would have made a difference.

“I think if all these people had seat belts on, definitely there’d be a lot less injury and maybe a lot less death,” said Imperato.

Imperato normally takes a train to commute to work but told Castro for the next few weeks, she plans to drive herself.

The Imperato’s were taking the train home from Washington, D.C. after spending the day meeting with lawmakers on capitol hill to lobby for ALS research.

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