Several passengers sustained minor injuries when an Amtrak Cascades train was derailed near Steilacoom, Washington, on Sunday, July 2, at approximately 2:30 p.m.
The Seattle Times referred to Amtrak’s statement on the incident, in which it was confirmed that “the locomotive and the baggage car on train 506 on the Amtrak Cascades run between Eugene, Ore., and Vancouver, British Columbia, derailed at the Chambers Bay Bridge.” The train left Eugene at 9 a.m. and was traveling north, said Janet Matkin, spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation. A CNN affiliate, KEPRtv, confirmed that the train was heading to Seattle.
Photos provided by local media and on social media show that the train “derailed while crossing a narrow stretch of land bordering the water at the Chambers Bay Bridge,” according to the Seattle Times. The photos show the first four of the train’s carriages flipped onto their sides, and the first car hanging over the water’s surface.
Neither the car nor any passengers fell into the water, but someone working on the bridge “had to jump in the water to avoid the car” as it approached the bridge, recalled Mitchell Crowley, 18, a passenger on board the train at the time of the derailment. He told the Seattle Times that the derailment happened “fairly slow” and passengers remained “fairly calm” throughout the ordeal. He was seated at the “farthest back,” which “didn’t go very far off the rails,” he said, although he did acknowledge that, “I did get to have that exciting experience… Brake, brake, brake and tipping over.”
In addition to the train’s crew members, 267 passengers were on board, of which several were injured. None of the crew was hurt, said Amtrak spokesperson Chelsea Kopta. She also advised that all passengers were evacuated from the crash site and their travels to their destinations were accommodated through other means of transport.
Crowley told the Seattle Times, that “travelers got off the train ‘almost immediately,’ and walked up to a nearby marina, where they were picked up by buses that took them to the Tacoma Amtrak station.”
The cause of the derailment is not yet clear and is still under investigation. There was concern, however, that a fuel leak in the train would contaminate the bay, so the Gig Harbor Police Department sent a patrol boat to help contain the leakage.
Though no one was badly hurt, the derailment “disrupted the operations of a key railroad corridor linking the biggest cities in the Pacific Northwest,” including causing a “handful of Amtrak Cascades,” as well as a Coast Starlight train to be delayed, reported the Seattle Times. While the Washington Department of Ecology anticipated it taking a “long night to upright the train,” the tracks were reopened around 6 p.m. local time, according to CNN.
[Featured Image Mark Makela/Getty Images]