KOIN 6 News Staff - PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- Becky Vonasek and her family were almost to Christmas Town. Elves were reading holiday tales, passengers were singing Christmas hymns and the train, filled with 214 passengers, was merrily making its way to meet Santa.
"Darnit, and then it happened," Vonasek recalled.
The first sign of trouble were the bumps.
"And (then) elves' eyes got really big," she said.
The Mt. Hood Railroad Train, transformed and refurbished with holiday decorations, derailed, sending 4 cars off the tracks. All cars on the train remained upright and no one was injured. It wasn't clear how the derailment happened, officials said. Emergency crews and railroad officials worked together to get passengers back to the station in Hood River.
While the derailment was enough to shock the passengers, and the 2 hours after in the dark were enough to scare some, the hardest part, according to Vonasek, was having to contain her energized kids.
"Have you ever been trapped in a small room with four children that are high on sugar, hot chocolate, cookies and marshmallows?" she said.
Vonasek was quick to applaud the crews on the train for how they handled the situation.
"Everyone was calm," she said. "They just really entertained the children and kept it pleasant. They were very apologetic, very accommodating, immediately gave me a full refund."
And as for a return trip?
"We'll be back again next year," Vonasek said.
Officials said they have canceled train rides for the rest of the weekend. Full refunds will be offered to those who bought tickets. The next train ride is scheduled for Dec. 8.