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Commuter train derailment in S.F. Bay Area leaves 14 injured

By Nathan Salant     Mar 8, 2016 in Travel
Sunol - Train service from San Jose to Stockton had to be canceled Tuesday and Wednesday following a derailment that frightened dozens of Silicon Valley commuters but caused no fatalities.
Fourteen people were injured Monday, several seriously, when the Altamont Commuter Express train apparently hit a fallen tree in Niles Canyon and left the tracks, plunging into Alameda Creek.
Emergency personnel arrived at the scene just before 7:30 p.m. to find the front of the ACE commuter train partially submerged in the rain-swollen creek with its lights still on, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
Passengers were promptly evacuated, with rescue workers breaking windows and lifting people from the train while other passengers managed to scramble up the creek's south bank to Highway 84 and wait for help to arrive.
The second car of the train also derailed but remained upright, the newspaper said.
Four of the injuries were serious but not life-threatening.
“We’re very lucky,” Alameda County Sheriff's Sgt. Ray Kelly told the newspaper.
“It’s absolutely a miracle that nobody was killed,” he said.
The No. 10 train, which was traveling northeast from San Jose to Stockton, was due to arrive in Pleasanton at 7:30 p.m.
The train was completely evacuated by 8:30 p.m.
Passenger Tanner McKenzie was riding in the second car when it derailed and began sliding through the mud.
“There was an impact, the power went out,” he told the newspaper.
“I was just sure at any moment we were going to flip over,” he said.
One woman was taken to Eden Medical Center in Casto Valley while several other passengers were treated at Washington Hospital in Fremont, the newspaper said.
John Wong, 49, of Pleasanton was in the last car of the train, returning from work as an engineer at a semiconductor company in Sunnyvale, when the train derailed.
“There were a couple of huge jerks and then the train stopped,” he said.
Wong said he and others waited in the derailed car for half an hour until word reached them that the train had derailed and they climbed out of the car.
He stood with 200 other passengers on the side of Highway 84 until emergency vehicles arrived.
“We were the last car, so we didn’t really see the event, but the first car landed in the creek," he said.
“They gave us blankets, but no beer, no food,” Wong told the newspaper.
“I wouldn’t mind getting a shot of whiskey, that’s for sure,” he said.
Uninjured passengers were taken to the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton on buses.
Safety investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were reportedly en route to the accident.
There were more than 200 passengers aboard the train when it derailed.
ACE carries nearly 5,000 commuters back and forth between Stockton and San Jose on a normal weekday.
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