An Altamont Corridor Express train traveling from San Jose to Stockton ran into a mudslide Monday night and derailed, sending the front car of the train into a rushing creek. The accident, as CBS 5 reports, happened at 7:30 p.m. with 214 people aboard the commuter rail, and though injury counts varied through the night, ABC News and the SF Chronicle are now reporting that nine people were injured, four of them seriously. None of the injuries are said to be life-threatening.
Alameda County Fire posted the above photos to Twitter at 8:21 p.m. as rescue efforts were underway.
Initial reports stated that the ACE train had run into a fallen tree on the tracks, but it appears that a mudslide was to blame, and that there was a tree within the mudslide. This all occurred in the rural area of Niles Canyon 45 miles east of San Francisco, near Niles Canyon Road and Sunol, and despite the relatively few number of injuries, passengers described a chaotic and terrifying scene that unfolded over a half hour before the train was evacuated.
Passenger Tanner McKenzie was in the second car, which derailed and then slid for what seemed a long time through the mud, he said. People were screaming.
“There was an impact, the power went out,” he said. “I was just sure at any moment we were going to flip over.”
As the Mercury-News reports, the rain swollen creek was rushing hard enough that it made the job of first-responders especially difficult in accessing the front car of the train, which began sliding into the water. Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Anthony King said, "It was like the movies. It reminded me of a ride at Universal Studios."
Also from Merc:
Authorities said it was "an absolute miracle" no one was killed. Four of the injuries were serious, though not thought to be life-threatening, according to the Alameda County Fire Department. ....
In frantic phone calls to loved ones after the crash, passengers described the chaos, as the train spilled over an embankment sending bodies flying and crashing into glass. When the car rolled into the creek, the panic grew as water started rushing in.
Below is video, also from Alameda County Fire, showing a firefighter attempting to break out a window of the submerged front car of the train, searching for trapped survivors. As the New York Times put it, the entire incident and rescue "play[ed] out on social media."
Because of the remote location of the crash, uninjured passengers had to walk a half mile along a fire trail before getting shuttled to the ACE parking lot in Pleasanton, which was the next stop the train was scheduled to make. Many did not make it home until 1 a.m.
This was the ACE No. 10 train, and apparently the No. 8 train had traveled the same route just an hour before without incident.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.