A Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Metra train struck and killed two pedestrians Thursday night. The train was traveling on the West side through Little Village at 21st and Homan Streets when the accident occurred. Train accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report on the details of this tragedy.
The accident occurred on elevated tracks during the evening rush, around 4:50 p.m. BNSF line trains ran on a modified schedule after the fatal crash, resuming normal service this Friday morning. The two victims, a brother and sister in their 50s, were killed instantly. Family members believe the woman was trying to get her brother off the tracks when they were hit.
According to the Tribune, the two were traveling over the tracks on a well-worn shortcut in Little Village; the brother, Berry Huddleston, suffered from severe glaucoma and was often guided by his sister, Margaret. Friends and family say that the shortcut is used very often by Little Village residents, and Metra trains typically blow horns to warn residents, aware of the popular crossing.
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Even children use the shortcut, due to the lack of crosswalks or pedestrian walkways in the area. Margaret is survived by her husband, who was at the scene Thursday night as emergency crews investigated, along with eight children and more than 30 grandchildren. She was also a caretaker for her mother and brother.
A similar incident occurred just a few days ago in Des Plaines, when a 45-year-old woman was struck and killed by a train while on her bicycle. The victim, Amy Their, was riding her bike home during a break from work on August 1 when an express Metra train hit her on Northwest Highway.
She is survived by her husband, and leaves behind her company, Splash Dog, which helps dogs in need. Amy is also survived by her mother and two brothers. The accident occurred near the Cumberland depot around 6 p.m., and the accident remains under investigation.
Train accidents, unfortunately, are not all that rare, particularly in cities like Chicago with expansive commuter lines. When they do occur, the consequences are almost always fatal. About 3,000 Americans are involved in some type of train accident every year, including derailments and incidents involving other vehicles.
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Nearly halfway into 2014, there have already been many fatal Metra accidents in the Chicagoland area. In March, a teen was killed by a Rock Island Line train on his way to school – one week after, another pedestrian was fatally hit by a Union Pacific Northwest train. A study by Northwestern University found that about one pedestrian is killed every 10 days by a Metra train.
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Certain areas, such as the Little Village crossing, are more prone to fatal accidents. The five Chicago-area cities with the highest rates of pedestrian/train accidents are: Lake Forest, La Grange, Villa Park, Franklin Park, and Barrington. Though some are deemed likely suicides, less than half of all pedestrian accidents were intentional.
Most accidents occur on tracks that transport both commuter and freight trains – it is likely that pedestrians do not assume the tracks are used as often as they are, and take the chance of crossing. Metra trains move at much higher speeds than freight trains, and may not be audible until it is too late.
For their part, train companies are taking action to combat the fatalities, installed audio and visual signals at crossings, however there is much work left to do.
Too often pedestrians are blamed for the accident, without the ability to explain what happened. Experienced train accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have been working on these cases for many years, and have won millions on behalf of our clients and their surviving families. If you or someone you love was involved in a train accident, or if you have any questions about the legality of these cases, contact our firm immediately. It’s a free phone call, and we never charge any fees unless we are successful in your case.