Metra passenger killed, 4 others injured after train strikes truck in Clarendon Hills
CLARENDON HILLS, Ill. - A massive collision between a Metra train and a moving truck Wednesday morning killed a woman onboard that train and injured several others in southwest suburban Clarendon Hills.
Residents said they’ve been complaining about dangerous conditions at that railroad crossing because of an ongoing construction project.
"It was like watching a movie set," said eyewitness Denise Andrews. "It looked fake. It was just a huge, loud explosion."
Witnesses said they felt helpless watching the tragedy unfold.
Around 8 a.m., a moving truck with two men in the cab apparently became stuck on the tracks cutting across Prospect Avenue in downtown Clarendon Hills. The gates came down on the truck and an inbound BNSF Metra express was fast approaching from the west.
"Thankfully I saw the doors of the truck fly open, and the driver and passenger jumped out really fast. They ran," said eyewitness Angie Trejo. "And two seconds later, the Metra train smashed it and it was just a giant ball of smoke and fire."
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A female passenger in the front car was killed when she was ejected from the train by the impact. Two other passengers and two Metra workers on the train suffered minor injuries.
"All of us at Metra and BNSF are devastated by this death," said Metra spokesman Michael Gillis. "And we will be working hand-in-hand with NTSB to find out what happened."
But many Clarendon Hills residents believe it was an accident waiting to happen.
"To me this was totally preventable," said Patrick Walsh. "I’m not surprised something like this happened because this was, in my opinion, negligence."
Walsh owns a logistics company in Clarendon Hills, and is one of several residents who said they’ve been raising concerns about an ongoing construction project at the railroad crossing that has created a raised concrete lip on either side of the tracks.
"It effectively works as a speed bump, where you’re forced to come to a stop on both sides of the tracks," Walsh said. "To the point where I had a problem the other night with it and I thought ‘man, someone’s gonna get hurt.’"
Metra said because of the ongoing investigation, there will be a modified schedule on the BNSF line on Thursday, which can be found HERE.
No trains will be stopping in Clarendon Hills for the time being.
The Metra train was running on an altered scheduled because of an earlier mechanical problem on another train, Metra spokeswoman Meg Reile said. Train 1242 originated from Downers Grove and was expressing to Union Station when the crash happened, she said.
It was the second crash in Metra’s history where a passenger aboard a train was killed, Reile said. In 2005, an inbound Rock Island train derailed when it was going nearly 70 mph in a 10 mph zone, killing two people on board and injuring 46.
U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, from Downers Grove, said in a statement: "My heart is broken to learn that, earlier today, a life was lost and four people were injured in a train crash in Clarendon Hills. My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those impacted. We must take steps to ensure we protect our community from future tragedies."
The DuPage County coroner’s office hasn’t released the name of the woman who died.
Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.