‘We thought we hit a boulder:’ Passengers react after Amtrak train derails in Steilacoom

STEILACOOM, Wash -- Passengers aboard Amtrak train 506, which derailed in Steilacoom at Chamber’s Bay Marina on Sunday, were relieved to be off the train after all 267 passengers made it out safely.

The train, a Cascade line, was running northbound from Oregon to Vancouver, B.C. The train is 15 cars long and passengers aboard had different experiences depending on where they were sitting.

There were hugs from families as evacuation buses brought passengers to the Tacoma Amtrak station.

Passenger Mel Simmons was sitting in one of the train cars up front with her baby as the train cars went off the tracks.

“Everything was going smoothly then I noticed, boom, boom, boom," Simmons said. "I didn’t know what to think, I just grabbed my baby and I was like, 'what the hell is going on.'

Other passengers were terrified as their smooth ride suddenly got shaky about an hour and a half after the train left Oregon.

“All of a sudden everything was jerking, stopping. We thought we hit a boulder or something,” said Marka Gibson, a passenger in one of the back cars.

“I was dead in the center of the train, probably the seventh car. We weren’t in the one that tipped over, but it was pretty intense when it jumped off. You don’t expect that," said Fabian Brown, who was riding a train for the first time.

Passenger Susu Xu said it was her first time on a train also.

“Actually I was eating at the time and suddenly everything becomes very messy and people are screaming and luggage is falling out and I found out the train is off the track,” Xu said.

West Pierce Fire and Rescue said the first four cars of the train derailed as it neared Steilacoom at Chamber’s Bay Marina around 2:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

The cause of the derailment is still under investigation.

“One lady fainted after the fact, and one lady we saw had a leg wound, but it wasn’t severe, so we were very fortunate,” Gibson said.

Passengers were being bused to stations in Tukwila and Seattle, most of them simply glad to be off the train.

“Tacoma is my stop, and I’m very happy," Simmons said. "It’s been five hours of misery."

“First time on a train, maybe the last time on a train too, maybe next time I’ll catch the bus or catch a flight,” Brown said.