SUNOL (CBS SF) – Officials said Tuesday that a mudslide in the area caused an Altamont Corridor Express commuter train to derail in Niles Canyon near Sunol on Monday night.
ACE train no. 10 from San Jose to Stockton went off the tracks around 7:30 p.m., with 214 people on board.
According to officials, the train struck a mudslide that contained a tree. The first car of the train slid down an embankment and into Alameda Creek.
Earlier reports said the train struck a fallen tree that was on the tracks. The mudslide was likely caused by heavy rain that hit the Bay Area over the weekend.
Nine passengers were injured in the derailment. Four people had serious, but non-life threatening injuries, while five others had minor injuries.
Passengers told KPIX 5 they were extremely scared when the train went off the rails, especially since it was dark out and they couldn’t see anything.
“We started getting people out one by one. Walked out the front door of the second car which had separated and the first car was on its side angled down the embankment. The front end of the first car was in the water, and just trying to get people out,” said Tanner McKenzie, a passenger on the train.
According to passengers, the conductor actually ended up in the water of the Alameda Creek, but was able to get out safely.
Those who weren’t hurt were able to make it home around 1:00 a.m. Tuesday. Even veteran first responders are saying it was a miracle no one was killed.
ACE said all train service has been canceled on Tuesday. Highway 84 through the area is expected to remain closed through 5:00 p.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.
Union Pacific said cleanup will take all day at least.
“I don’t think any derailment is an easy cleanup,” said Union Pacific spokesperson Francisco Castillo. “I think every derailment has different variables to determine whether or not how quick they can actually get that cleared up. But we have the equipment in place…to try to get it cleared as soon as possible.”
Crews later said they were hoping to clear the accident scene by 4 p.m.