A train crash in California was caused by a tree that had fallen on the tracks in a northern isolated region of the state. Nine people were injured when two cars derailed, sending one plummeting into a nearby creek last night.
Initial reports stated 14 passengers were injured. However, the local NBC station is reporting authorities have confirmed only four passengers were seriously hurt and sent to Washington Hospital in Fremont and Eden Hospital in Castro Valley. Five others suffered minor injuries.
“It was dark, wet, it was raining. It was very chaotic,” Alameda County Sheriff’s Sergeant Ray Kelly said. “This is an absolute miracle that no one was killed, no passengers or first responders.”
Sergeant J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department said two front cars on the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train No. 10 derailed in Sunol, California, close to Niles Canyon Road. The train crashed sometime between 7:15 and 7:30 p.m. after striking a tree laying on the tracks.
Emergency responders worked frantically to pull passengers from the flooded rail car, which had landed on its side. Steve Walker, an official with ACE, said the first car had six passengers and one crew member aboard when it crashed and fell into the water. While also off the tracks, a second car remained upright, he said. Three additional cars and the locomotive managed to stay on the tracks.
Last night the area, roughly 45 miles east of San Francisco, was inundated with heavy rain. Several train travelers think a mudslide caused by the wet weather moved the tree onto the tracks.
“It just shifted the gravity all of a sudden and we were all just panicking,” said Rad Akhter, a passenger in the front car. “There were two people hurt, pretty badly. One was just under the mudslide so we were trying to dig her out while the train was hanging so it was a pretty crazy experience.”
Passenger Russell Blackman was in the second car when it derailed. He said he was suddenly thrown out of his seat and hurt his shoulder, but otherwise uninjured.
Other passengers said there were scared and surprised to be in the water, but thankful no one was killed.
“We knew we were in a pretty remote area so we knew we had some hiking to do along the train tracks,” said a passenger identified only as Kathy. “I’m grateful that it wasn’t worse.”
Around 10 p.m., passengers not injured were picked up by buses and transported to the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton to meet family members and friends. Still, some were at the site late into the evening.
Taxis were also hired to pick up travelers stuck in Pleasanton due to the train derailment. The cabs were able to take them to their intended destinations.
Several agencies, including the Fremont Police Department and Alameda County Fire Department, were called to the crash site to help out. Niles Canyon Road was closed and will remain so until crews can get a better look at the damage.
“Once we get some daylight, we’ll be able to really see what’s going on and walk the tracks,” Kelly said.
While fortunately no one died in this train derailment, other accidents have been much worse. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, a train crash in Philadelphia killed seven people last year.
All train service is cancelled for Tuesday while an investigation and track inspection are completed. ACE train officials say once the tracks are deemed safe, they intend to have service restored as soon as possible.
At the time of the California train crash, there were 214 people onboard. The train had left the San Jose station at 6:38 p.m. and should have arrived in Stockton at 8:50 p.m., according to ACE’s published train schedule.
[Photo by Lennart Preiss/Getty Images]