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Officials: Truck driver drove around gates before colliding with train

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  • Officials: Truck driver drove around gates before colliding with train

    A Metra Northwest Line train collided with a truck that apparently drove through crossing gates in Mount Prospect this morning, killing the truck driver and causing the front train car to derail.

    All the train cars remained upright but at least 29 passengers were taken to hospitals and 10 others were treated on the scene. Officials said none of the injuries aboard the train appeared life-threatening, though the engineer was listed in critical condition.

    The truck driver was identified as Kazimierz Karasek, 59, from Prospect Heights.

    The impact sheared the trailer from the cab, which landed to the side of the intersection. The train came to a stop after clearing the crossing, the second car black from soot because of fire from the truck. Listing to the side, the car's inside was a mess of jagged metal, riders' business papers and make-up, according to Des Plaines deputy fire chief Ron Eilken.

    "It's amazing that no one got seriously hurt," he said.

    Passengers said there was no warning before the collision.

    "There was no horn, there was no braking, there was an explosion," said Sarah Flashing, who was headed to work in Park Ridge and sitting on the upper level of one of the lead cars. "I have never been in so much shock. I can’t stop crying."

    Passengers popped out windows on the upper level to get out, witnesses said. "They were breaking the windows on the second floor of the train and jumping out of there," said Zack Ladner, 21, who lives four houses from the scene.

    Several passengers said their first thought was a terrorist act. But Mount Prospect Police Commander John Wagner dismissed those fears. "It just appears to be a driver in a hurry," he said.

    The train, No. 636, was headed inbound from Harvard when it hit the truck on the crossing at about 8:40 a.m. at Seger near the Cumberland station in Mount Prospect, said Michael Gillis, a spokesman for Metra.

    The truck was carrying load of concrete and was headed northwest on Northwest Highway, police said. It turned left onto Mount Prospect Road and through the crossing, Wagner said, adding that the gates were down and the signals were working.

    The front train car came to rest roughly 200 yards east of Mount Prospect road, a gash slicing the metal above the lower row of windows.

    The driver was thrown from his truck, officials said. For hours after the crash, his body lay covered and hidden from view by orange barricades a few feet from the intersection, several feet from the truck's cab. Nearby, fire crews checked for injuries among the droves of passengers milling about the lawns along Northwest Highway.

    Union Pacific spokesman Wes Lujan said the gates at the crossing were "operating as designed."

    "We believe that he drove around the gates," Lujan said at a news conference.

    He said crossing design is an "issue" because of Northwest Highway's diagonal slant, but he added, "There's no reason to go around (the gates)."

    A similar accident involving the same kind of truck happened almost 10 years ago at the Mount Prospect Road and Northwest Highway intersection, according to Des Plaines fire officials.

    In today's accident, Wagner said the driver would have disregarded a "No Left Turn" sign, in addition to the gates and crossing lights. The driver had to cross into the northbound lanes of Mount Prospect Road to get around the northern gate, he said. That left the cab squarely on the tracks as the train blew through the intersection, and the trailer and cab bent like a jacknife, with the trailer hitting the train cars.

    Flashing, 41, said the collision felt like "the train was on top of something. It shook terribly, from right to left, like we were going to fall on the tracks. . .I felt we were going to end up on the tracks.


    A conductor uses a fire extinguisher on the undercarriage of a Metra train involved in a collision with a truck in Mount Prospect today.


    Passengers leave Metra train after it collided with a truck in Mount Prospect this morning


    The truck after being struck.


    Ariel view.

    http://dailyherald.com/article/20110.../AR/#navAnchor
    Last edited by MD11pilot; 05-13-2011, 03:23 PM.
    Life is what you make of it

  • #2
    I always thought trucks and buses had to come to a complete stop at RR crossings even if the gates were up. Hard to believe that people still don't get that the locomotive is always going to win.

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    • #3
      In his defense it looked like the train would swerve first.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by JJHunsacker View Post
        I always thought trucks and buses had to come to a complete stop at RR crossings even if the gates were up. Hard to believe that people still don't get that the locomotive is always going to win.
        Buses have to but, the only trucks required to are the ones hauling haz mat.
        (\__/)
        (='.'=) This is Ninja Bunny.
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        • #5
          I was second unit on scene to one of these in the early 80s.,it was a Texaco fuel tanker,the train clipped the arse end of the trailer,spraying flaming gas on to a car waiting at the tracks on the other side.This car contained my doctors receptionist and her 2 y/o daughter in a child seat in the back,she did it all right/proper/legal,he busts through and her child burns to death.,also a wooden frame bar room also went up,had 5 bodies stacked like cord wood by a barricaded rear door..Driver last I heard no injuries/no time,and yes he was charged.
          Sleeping Giant. They're not fat and happy anymore. They are hungry and increasingly angry. That is not a good recipe for a "Puppies and Rainbows America".

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          • #6
            Originally posted by JJHunsacker View Post
            I always thought trucks and buses had to come to a complete stop at RR crossings even if the gates were up. Hard to believe that people still don't get that the locomotive is always going to win.
            I worked a Hit and run vehicle to train several years ago, truck was on the tracks, got hit spun off tracks the driver then left the area. We found him about 3 hrs later not sure how he was able to drive away, but he did. The conductor had to be taken to the hospital for observation as he was emotionally distraught thinking he just killed someone.
            It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

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            • #7
              And the at fault parties sued the railroad and won. I dont see how a vehicle whose path could not be more apparent with all the warning is deemed at fault. Its not like trains swerve ouit of control into your lane.

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              • #8
                It looks as if the truck was a dump truck, gravel hauler, or something like that. I have usually seen these trucks speeding, no covered loads causing damage to my windshield, running stop signs and RR crossings. They get paid by the load not on an hourly basis.
                Pete Malloy, "The only thing black and white about this job is the car."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by HCSO511 View Post
                  And the at fault parties sued the railroad and won. I dont see how a vehicle whose path could not be more apparent with all the warning is deemed at fault. Its not like trains swerve ouit of control into your lane.
                  A couple years ago, a kid and 4 of his friends were killed when the car he was driving swerved around a car stopped at a crossing and then around the gates of the crossing and his car was hit by an Amtrak. One of the papers here quoted a "witness" who said that the gates were up, and went so far as to say she went up to the car afterwards and saw the people in the car "looking peaceful". First of all, the camera in the locomotive showed that the gates were down, and also showed that the only person who went to see the car was a porter, and his body language showed that the people in the car looked anything but peaceful. But hey, the "witness" got her name in the paper. Plus, the the guy driving the car was driving his mother's car on a suspended license.

                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-W7tU31Kg0

                  Despite this, there was talk about Amtrak being at fault.
                  Last edited by JJHunsacker; 05-16-2011, 02:50 PM.

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                  • #10
                    What is strange is that when I was younger and heard a train whistle, my first instinct was to see if I could make it across the tracks before the train arrived.
                    Now that I'm older and wiser, whenever I hear a train whistle, I cringe knowing that danger is approaching. I no longer cross a set of tracks when there is a train approaching.
                    Living it one day at a time.

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                    • #11
                      That very train line (UP-NW) passes by my old HS and every time the gates went down a bunch of people went around, I saw 3-4 close calls.
                      Life is what you make of it

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by JJHunsacker View Post
                        I always thought trucks and buses had to come to a complete stop at RR crossings even if the gates were up. Hard to believe that people still don't get that the locomotive is always going to win.
                        Like bringing a knife to a gunfight.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I saw one an Engineer I know posted where a propane truck got stuck on the tracks (gates may have been up when the truck entered) the driver RAN when he saw the train, it killed everybody operating the train :-(.

                          Bill
                          Just pay your dues, and be quiet :-)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by BAinCJ View Post
                            What is strange is that when I was younger and heard a train whistle, my first instinct was to see if I could make it across the tracks before the train arrived.
                            Now that I'm older and wiser, whenever I hear a train whistle, I cringe knowing that danger is approaching. I no longer cross a set of tracks when there is a train approaching.
                            Odd, when I was real young (in 1979-1980) we thought it was funny one time to dodge cars while playing with a friend. I now cringe when my nephew wants to ride his bike in front of my house. Even though the neighbors' kids do it all the time (residential neighborhood).

                            I'm not going to rant about truck drivers again but I will say they should require a competency exam to get a license. Some of them are dumber than a box rocks.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Exodus259
                              I read about this earlier this morning. Completely ridiculous, and completely avoidable. When will these people learn that vehicles are not indestructible against trains??
                              Looks like that driver did.
                              It's better to be hated for what you are, then to be loved for what you are not.

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