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The memorial honors those who lost their lives in the fatal train crash

CHICAGO — It was 50 years ago today, Oct. 30, that 45 people died in the deadliest train crash in Illinois history.

A 50-year anniversary memorial was built at First Unitarian Church Sunday to honor those who died.

Lisa Claire and her friends, Dean and Pat, were aboard a northbound Illinois Central commuter train – no. 416 — when another train hit them from behind.

“The next thing I remember is waking up,” said Claire, who was a senior in high school in 1972. – Pat and I were sitting together, looking at each other, saying, “What happened?”

Clara still remembers the disaster well, remembering what it was like.

“Our train is in the telescope. We had a very old school train, like a cast iron one, Claire said. “It broke what they called a double-decker tin train, so we were basically on those two trains.”

Dean died that day, and Claire and Pat were injured and trapped for hours waiting to be rescued, as were hundreds of others involved in the crash.

Despite the trauma of the incident, Claire and survivors like her hope the memorial will help ensure those who died that day are never forgotten.

“We can’t forget the people who died,” said Louise LaVar, who was the mother of a five-month-old child when she was among those injured in the crash. “They are alive as long as we remember them.”

In the future, the organizers of the memorial ask the mayor of Chicago to create a permanent monument in honor of those who died on this day in 1972.


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