Train accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on the recent Blue Line train collision in Chicago. A runaway train with no one at the conductors collided with an occupied train sitting at the Harlem station. Dozens of injured passengers were taken to nearby hospitals, though fortunately no injuries were serious.
The crash, which occurred around morning rush hour, was caused by a train that somehow slipped from the service yard and traveled over safety protections. The occupied train stationed at Harlem was carrying about 40 passengers at the time, and victims reported pure chaos after the collision.
The runaway train hit the occupied eight-car train from behind, smashing the cars into one another like an accordion. One passenger fell to the ground and told the Sun-Times she was trampled by other passengers trying to get to the door and yelling at one another.
Ironically, the crash occurred less than an hour before Mayor Emanuel, the CTA President and Chairman gathered to address transportation officials at the American Public Transportation Association national convention downtown. Neither Mayor Emanuel nor the CTA executives mentioned the Blue Line crash during their speeches. Instead, the men emphasized the CTA’s accomplishments, including the recent train platform revitalization efforts. Attendees did see the news on big-screen TVs as they left the convention hall, however.
The CTA confirms that no one was at the controls of the Blue Line train at the point of impact. Video from the Harlem station platform is currently under review by the CTA and other state transportation authorities. The out-of-service train traveled about three-quarters of a mile from the Forest Park service station before slamming into the occupied train at an estimated 20 miles per hour.
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Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) flew in from Washington DC after the crash to inspect the train, crash site, and interview those involved and, with hope, identify exactly what happened. It may be difficult to come to a straightforward conclusion however, as one NTSB investigator stated that he has heard five different stories already. Mechanical and operational experts are also being brought in to help with the federal investigation.
The motorman and manager of the Forest Park train station stated that trains must be turned on by a key to operate. Conductors turn a key to open the train door and then use a separate key to power on the train. He said it was possible someone “keyed up” the train before it left Forest Park unoccupied. In order to leave stations, every train must first receive clearance from the control center and a supervisor.
The renegade Blue Line train apparently overrode two switches and an internal safety mechanism that should have stopped it. It also traveled up a slight incline before heading into the Harlem station. The train was set to receive brake repairs and had been out of service for about one week before the crash. Currently, the crash is believed to be caused by mechanical malfunctions; there is no evidence of sabotage or criminal activity.
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In related news in Indiana, a wrongful death lawsuit was recently filed against train company Norfolk Southern Corp after a woman was killed by an oncoming train. The 51-year-old woman was pronounced dead just 90 minutes after being struck by the train at a local street crossing. Her family is now suing Norfolk for negligence in failing to exercise reasonable care in the maintenance, supervision, management, inspection, and operation of the train and its crossings.
Witnesses told responding officers that the woman had just exited a city bus and was walking east with her head down as she stopped at the first set of tracks, looked both ways, and continued walking with her head down. Tragically, she did not look up again before passing the second set of train tracks, where the train fatally struck her. She was thrown about 25 feet by the train’s impact, which was traveling at about 25 miles per hour.
Train accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have decades of experience working with victims of these catastrophic crashes. There is a limited amount of time injured victims have to file claims against those responsible for railway accidents, so if you or a loved one was seriously injured in a train crash, contact one of our skilled railroad accident attorneys today for a free legal consultation.