An Amtrak passenger train derailed Sunday near Steilacoom. No one was seriously injured.
The locomotive and several cars of an Amtrak Cascades passenger train derailed near Steilacoom on Sunday, yielding only minor injuries, but disrupted the operations of a key railroad corridor linking the biggest cities in the Pacific Northwest.
Mitchell Crowley, 18, of Redmond, was on one of the cars that went off the track. “I was in the farthest back, didn’t go very far off the rails. I did get to have that exciting experience,” he said. “Brake, brake, brake and tipping over.”
Crowley, who was returning home from a trip to Belize and had landed in Portland, said four cars derailed. “The derailment was fairly slow,” he said.
The car he was on tipped about 15 degrees, he said.
Passengers were “fairly calm” and no one in the car seemed hurt, but a person working on a bridge the train was approaching “had to jump in the water to avoid the car,” Crowley said.
Photos posted on Twitter showed the train appeared to have derailed while crossing a narrow stretch of land bordering the water at the Chambers Bay bridge.
Photographs posted on local media show the front of the train crumpled against a steel bridge with the engine on its side.
The Gig Harbor Police Department dispatched a patrol boat to help state Department of Ecology officials lay a protective boom in the water in the event of a fuel leak.
In a statement, Amtrak said 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 about 2:30 p.m.
There were 267 passengers on board, and Amtrak reported there were several minor injuries to riders.
No crew members were hurt, Amtrak spokeswoman Chelsea Kopta said in an emailed statement.
All the passengers were evacuated, she said.
She said passengers were provided alternative modes of transportation.
A “handful” of Amtrak Cascades and a Coast Starlight train were delayed due to the derailment, she said.
The cause of the derailment remains under investigation, Kopta said.
The train was northbound and had left Eugene at about 9 a.m., Janet Matkin, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Department of Transportation, said Sunday.
Washington and Oregon are responsible for the railroad route, which runs four daily trains between Seattle and Portland, and contract Amtrak to operate the service.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway owns the tracks. BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas confirmed the derailment but had no other information.
Crowley, the passenger, said 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.
From there, other buses took people to Seattle, but Crowley’s family picked him up.
“It was exciting. A little bit stressful,” Crowley said.
The Washington Department of Ecology tweeted that it would be a “long night to upright the train,” and that equipment needed to do so was hours away.
Initial reports that cars were in the water proved inaccurate. Four cars were apparently derailed, based on photographs from the scene posted by police, fire officials and on social media.
The Sheriff’s Office tweeted that it was sending boats and a dive team, but there was no indication that any of the passengers went into the water.
Steilacoom is just south of Tacoma, and the train tracks run alongside South Puget Sound.