Lake County Motorist

Suburban Chicagoland commuter and motorist weblog

An Amtrak accident story

It all started as a regular Friday night Metra ride home on the Milwaukee District-North line, until the engineer came on the intercom and announced that an Amtrak train had just struck a pedestrian at the Lake Forest station ahead. Our travel would thus be halted until further notice.

It was 5:20 PM.

I gasped. This was my first experience with a train accident. My memory flashed back to the northbound Amtrak train that had dashed past my station ten minutes earlier. It had to be the one involved.

Out came a multitude of cell phones as passengers phoned contacts, advising them of events. As the wait wore on, a handful of passengers began discussing the situation. One passenger passed judgment on the pedestrian, loudly voicing blame mixed with irritation at the delay. Another passenger responded, describing the necessity of a thorough investigation. Fortunately, other passengers did not join in the fray, perhaps out of weariness or out of respect for the tragedy they kept their opinions to themselves.

Over the ensuing hour and a half, updates were occasionally broadcast over the intercom. The announcer confirmed the fatality, of which we had already suspected. Finally around 6 PM our train was cleared to continue northward.

The mood in the car during our slow approach to and departure from the Lake Forest station was somber, the effect jarring. The blame-slinger was silent.

The victim was a woman from Round Lake. It was not until I read the News-Sun’s article about the accident that I learned of two recent accidents at the Round Lake Metra station. My condolences go out to the families of these victims.

According to the Illinois Commerce Commission’s website, there were 26 collisions between trains and motorists/pedestrians in Lake County between 2002 and 2007. Lake County has 1.6% of the state’s crossings, but accounted for 2.6% of the accidents.

The moral of the story is that safety around trains cannot be emphasized enough. There have been far too many train accidents as of late. We need for you to be safe.

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Filed under: Mass Transit, , , , ,

4 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. kilax says:

    I was on the 5:50 out of Union when the conductor warned us so I got off at the N Glen (near where my husband works). I was surprised that when I got to my car at the Round Lake station, there were still so many cars in the lot. I am usually the last one there! I knew then that the accident must have been fatal.

    I am worried that this happens so often. Come on people, practice safety! These trains cannot stop that quick!

  2. DuMas says:

    From what I understand from rescue workers on the scene is that a man was walking in front and was just missed by the train. The woman however, was not paying attention as she was talking on her cell phone with the phone in her ear toward the train.

  3. lcmotorist says:

    One thing I learned from this experience: If the conductor gives you an opportunity to get off the train in a situation like this, TAKE IT. I should’ve done that.

    On the other hand, I would’ve had to wait for my ride to arrive and then we’d sit in traffic on our way back north, so I was pretty much set for a late arrival either way.

    But hey, at least by car I could’ve stopped at Starbucks on the way home!

  4. lcmotorist says:

    @DuMas: Wow…that just underscores the need for people to remain alert and cautious when using mobile devices. People are so busy nowadays and there are so many distractions. Thanks for posting.

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