CHICAGO (CBS) – A lawyer for the family of the 72-year-old woman who died when the Metra train she was riding crashed into a semi-truck in the western suburbs of Clarendon Hills said the collision “was an accident that awaited the accident”.
Christina Lopez of Downers Grove was killed when a BNSF rail line train crashed into a truck that stopped on rails in Clarendon Hills around 8am on Wednesday. The autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.
Metra officials said that based on initial reports, the truck appeared to be stuck behind another vehicle shortly before the crash.
Steve Jumboy, a lawyer for the Lopez family, said Clarendon Hills had filed several complaints about the railroad crossing, but nothing had been done.
“From everything I’ve heard, it was an accident waiting to happen; that traffic due to construction at this intersection was so slow that people were quite often harmed, and that it was bound to happen and could very well have been prevented, ”he said.
Asked if the family plans to sue the village of Clarendon Hills over the crash, Jumboy said they are awaiting the results of an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board and the Illinois Trade Commission.
NTSB staff were expected to discuss the crash investigation Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Lopez’s son-in-law, Jeff Clanowski, asked anyone who may have information about previous problems at the intersection to speak.
“This accident could have been prevented. If anyone has information, video or any information that can help us get some answers, we would be very grateful, so please contact. We want answers, but it is also important that we want to contribute to help so that no family survives this tragedy again. It should not have happened, “he said.
CBS 2 spoke with the delivery driver about problems with moving trains.
Daniel Person said he goes through the transition at least 30 times a day during delivery.
“There’s a four-inch lip that’s very sharp, and every driver who drives here has to slow down almost to a stop to get through it,” he said. “I did get stuck on the rails one day because someone stopped and didn’t go the other way, and I was on the rails and I was a little nervous, but there was no train.”
Clan, meanwhile, said the Lopez family is grateful for the support they received from the community after his mother-in-law was killed.
Lopez, a retired cleaner, was the mother of three and the grandmother of five children, and Clan said she often nursed her grandchildren at Downers Gow.
“She was a devoted sister to her 10 siblings, seven of whom are still with us today. She was a caring aunt for many nephews and nephews, as you can imagine. And she was a faithful friend for life,” he said. .
Clanowski said the family was lucky enough to celebrate with Lopez and most of their large family Mother’s Day a few days before the crash.
“We know she will be very bored,” he said. “Some people are black and white, others are gray. She was gray, but I say this in the most positive way. She was the glue for the family.”
Clan said Lopez was going to visit his sister in La Grange during the crash.
“We should all be grateful for the time we have. I mean, time is a commodity that you just can’t get anymore, and it’s a sharp reminder that you need to use the time you have with loved ones. , focus on what is “. it’s important, ”he said.
According to Clan, Lopez moved to Downers Grove a few years ago, having spent most of her life in Chicago, and most recently worked cleaning up offices on WLS-TV in downtown Chicago before retiring.
Sabrina Franz of CBS 2 received an exclusive video of the crash. The video was shot by Tom Shurgot from a car waiting at the crossing. Bells are ringing and red lights are flashing, but the truck is standing under a partially lowered gate.
First, two people get out of the truck when the Metro train beeps. The Metro train then enters directly into the truck, also demolishing the crossing gate and removing the air wires. On the other side of the train there is a cloud of black smoke, and after passing the train it turns out that the remains of the truck were burning.
“It just sounded like you couldn’t explain it,” Samie Ademi said. “It’s something when you hear it, your heart starts beating faster because you know it’s abnormal.”
Ademi also shot a video showing a tower of flames and smoke on the track after the wreckage of the truck was swallowed.
“It felt like he got out of his chair, probably,” Ademi said, “and then my bag just fell to the floor.”
Witnesses said they saw the truck stall. Del’s Moving and Storage, whose logo is visible on the truck in a horrific video for a mobile phone, declined to comment on the crash.
The accident, which killed Lopez, injured four more people on the Metra train – including two passengers, a train conductor and a train driver.
The truck driver was able to escape before the train hit the truck and was not injured.
Some power lines were also cut off, which could affect electricity in the area.
The truck burned badly and the train was also severely damaged in the collision.
“The whistle rings and then a huge noise. The first thing that came to my mind was that the train had hit something, ”witness Krish Rangaswami said.
Emily Schwyz, who works nearby, said she saw the incident unfold. She said the gateway had fallen, but the warning did not work in full.
“One of the real things went down, but there were no sounds. So I saw the driver get up from the driver’s seat and run, and when I looked back, the truck was overturned almost upside down,” she said.
The BNSF railroad was shut down for hours after Wednesday’s crash, but resumed limited service before the evening rush hour. On Thursday, the line operated on a Saturday schedule and made no stops at Clarendon Hills.