SUNOL (KRON) — Nine people were injured after an ACE commuter train derailed and plunged into a creek in Sunol Monday evening.
Alameda County Sheriff’s officials initially said 14 people were injured, but later downgraded the number of people to 9. Five suffered minor injuries and four have serious injuries. All are non-life-threatening.
ACE train service has been suspended Tuesday in the area as authorities continue to investigate.
Niles Canyon Road and Hwy 84 between Palomares and Main Street has reopened after it was closed due to the derailment.
At first, officials believed it was a fallen tree branch that derailed the train, but an investigation later revealed at a mudslide caused the incident.
The first rail car of the train rolled into Alameda Creek, landed on its side and began to flood, according to Alameda County sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly. All people onboard had to be rescued from the fast-moving creek.
“It is absolutely a miracle that nobody was killed,” Kelly said.
Car No. 2 derailed but was upright. Cars No. 3 through 5 were unaffected.
“Our deputies as well as firefighters from surrounding agencies did everything to get into that train, at risk to their own lives, and were able to get the people out of that rail car and then evacuate another 250 people out of the remaining rail cars,” Kelly said.
Passengers were evacuated and checked by paramedics. The uninjured riders were transported to the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton, the department said.
Whether the derailed car, valued at more than $2 million, can be salvaged remains to be seen, according to ACE spokesman Steve Walker.
Five passengers and the train’s engineer were on board the first car. Four of them were seriously injured in the derailment and were taken to a hospital. Five other people on board the train suffered minor injuries, just scrapes and bruises, Walker said.
Alameda County fire officials said a few other people had minor injuries but were treated at the scene.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kelly said Monday night it was a “miracle that nobody was killed.”
The other approximately 200 passengers on board the train were taken by bus to the Alameda County fairgrounds and then to their final stations, according to the fire department. All passengers reached their final stations by about 1 a.m., ACE officials said.
The ACE commuter train, which runs from Stockton to San Jose, has had two previous derailments in its approximately 17-year history, though neither has resulted to any injuries of passengers. A train going 8 mph derailed while switching tracks near the Stockton station in 1999 and then in 2008, a slow-moving train with no passengers on board derailed in the rail yard, ACE officials said.
Since the cause of Monday’s derailment is clear, the National Transportation Safety Board is not sending investigators, Walker said.
The tracks in the area are owned by Union Pacific. Once the derailed train is removed from the tracks, they will need to be cleaned and inspected before service can resume. Union Pacific will have the final say on when the tracks are safe for regular service again, Walker said.
As of 5:20 p.m., the train cars were being pulled from the wreckage site.
Union Pacific crews inspect the tracks in the area twice a week for obstructions, according to Walker.
For now, Amtrak is honoring ACE tickets between Fremont and San Jose until service resumes. San Joaquin Regional Transit District’s BART 150 bus route, with service from Stockton to the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station, is offering free rides Tuesday and Wednesday, ACE officials said.
ACE service will run as normal Wednesday morning, officials announced Tuesday afternoon.
— Will Tran (@KRON4WTran) March 8, 2016
Derailed train car almost back on tracks in sunol @kron4news