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View Full Version : Metra grade crossing collision: my trip to the accident scene


SamD
11-24-2005, 07:53 AM
This evening, just before five oíclock, there was a major grade crossing collision in the western suburbs of Chicago, involving a Metra train, and as many as 15 cars. The full story can be found here (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051124/ap_on_re_us/commuter_train_crash;_ylt=AvANtyFyf3ESMYd59ewXWxNv zwcF;_ylu=X3oDMTA5aHJvMDdwBHNlYwN5bmNhdA--)

I went out to the scene of the acident at about 8:00, and while they had cleaned up the crossing, and reopened two of the tracks to trains, the car wrecks and the train itís self were still on scene.

Due to lay of the land, and the way the police had the area cordoned off, I was able to get very close to the accident scene, along with a crush of media and other on-lookers.

Here's some of the better ones...

http://static.flickr.com/25/66406739_14d79dcf7e.jpg?v=0

http://static.flickr.com/29/66406742_ddbf9adfec.jpg?v=0

http://static.flickr.com/30/66406737_b36a5983e0.jpg?v=0

Amazingly, there have been no fatalites from this acident. It seems a lot of the people who's cars got stuck on the crossing realized what was about to happen and got out. Quite likely some of the worst injuries were not in the cars struck by the train, but rather in the cars struck in secondary collisions with cars struck and pushed from the tracks.

All of my photos of the accident scene can be found here (http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/archivethumbs.aspx?id=8167)

Christopher Muller
11-24-2005, 09:52 AM
Just articulates why, we DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS. I'm sure everyone is going to have their own opinion on this, however, keep in mind that even if the signals were working or not, traffic was stopped on the grade [according to the news and observers], there is a huge sign that says "LONG CROSSING, DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS" right before the crossing. The only people responsible for this accident are the motorists that were parked on the tracks, IMO.

Christopher Muller
11-24-2005, 09:53 AM
Thanks for sharing the photos also.

4kV
11-24-2005, 01:26 PM
"John Pease, 32, who lives near the site said he didn't see any warning lights flashing. "The gates were definitely up," he said."


Right.......... People see what they want to see. I'm sure the gates were up when everyone decided to park on the track, that much may be true.

There's nothing like setting yourself up for a good game of bowling, you are the pins, the locomotive is the ball.

I'm sure the lawyers will pull out their usual half ass reasoning and see fit that Metra is found totally responsible. Afterall, Metra should have known ahead of time that people were going to disregard safety and common sense and should have had a plan in place to stop the train. It certainly can't be the responsibility of the drivers, now, can it? We don't have to be responsible, it should be up to everyone else to see that we live our lives with absolutely no hardship or inconvenience.

busyEMT
11-24-2005, 03:10 PM
"John Pease, 32, who lives near the site said he didn't see any warning lights flashing. "The gates were definitely up," he said."


Right.......... People see what they want to see. I'm sure the gates were up when everyone decided to park on the track, that much may be true.
I am sure Mr. Pease sits at his front window watching the crossing guards every second of the day. I wonder just how "near" he lives? And, is it in the line of sight?

I'm sure the lawyers will pull out their usual half ass reasoning and see fit that Metra is found totally responsible. Afterall, Metra should have known ahead of time that people were going to disregard safety and common sense and should have had a plan in place to stop the train. It certainly can't be the responsibility of the drivers, now, can it? We don't have to be responsible, it should be up to everyone else to see that we live our lives with absolutely no hardship or inconvenience.Railroads should just take up all the crossings. Cities can build bridges or underpasses if they wish to provide a way to get from one side to the other. Then to prevent pedestrians from getting injured - make chainlink tunnels protecting the tracks from wandering fools.

I say, everyone one the train (injured or not) and the railroad, sue each individual parked on the tracks. But I am sure everyone will go after the railroad because crossing guards and purchasing a ticket means that no harm will ever come to an individual.

jweber33
11-24-2005, 03:57 PM
1.) That looks like a more dangerous/complicated grade crossing then about 99% of crossings out here. Streets out here generally do not cross at a sharp angle like that.

2.) We have a lot of bad grade-crossing accidents out here, but we never get that many cars in a crash

SamD
11-24-2005, 04:40 PM
Just articulates why, we DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS. I'm sure everyone is going to have their own opinion on this, however, keep in mind that even if the signals were working or not, traffic was stopped on the grade [according to the news and observers], there is a huge sign that says "LONG CROSSING, DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS" right before the crossing.

Very true, however, thereís an additional factor here that makes this crossing extra dangerous. Some idiot decided to put a stop light half a block east of the crossing. Due to the length of the crossing, itís very easy to enter it thinking traffic is moving and youíll make it over, have the light change while youíre still in the do-not-stop area, and then find yourself trapped. I donít think thatís what happened here, since reports are traffic was bumper to bumper, and if thatís the case, for this to have happened people would have had to move into the crossing when they should have known better.

I'm sure the lawyers will pull out their usual half ass reasoning and see fit that Metra is found totally responsible. fterall, Metra should have known ahead of time that people were going to disregard safety and common sense and should have had a plan in place to stop the train.

While there is contributor negligence on the part of the accident victims, I think a very good case can be made that the Village of Elmwood Park bares a large deal of responsibility for this accident. Due to the above mentioned traffic light, they created a natural bottle neck at a place where there should absolutely not be one. Worst still is the fact the intersection with the light is fairly confusing in itís own right.

This map (http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Elmwood+Park+IL&ll=41.925837,-87.817036&spn=0.002366,0.007991&t=h&hl=en) shows the area of the crossing. The intersection with 76th/Sunset and Grand is the location of the light. This map also gives you a proper prospective of just how bad the angle the tracks cross the road is.

The Village of Elmwood Park created a profoundly hazardous situation by putting a light-controlled intersection on a heavily traveled street a short distance from an already dangerous crossing. Frankly, it amazes me that acidents like this donít happen every day there.

4kV
11-24-2005, 04:48 PM
The Village of Elmwood Park created a profoundly hazardous situation by putting a light-controlled intersection on a heavily traveled street a short distance from an already dangerous crossing. Frankly, it amazes me that acidents like this donít happen every day there.

There is much truth to this, and your point is not being disputed here, but I will say, it is still ultimately driver responsibility to be in control of the vehicle at all times for all situations.

Now, along what you are saying, Kirkwood, MO had a similar setup. There is a stoplight right north of the crossing on US 67. There is a lot of traffic on the road and the railroad. After having people stopped on the tracks waiting for the light, the decided to put a stoplight just south of the tracks that turns red before the one north of the tracks. That way, there is no bottle neck on the tracks except for one thing. There are many idiots who drive right through the first red, even though it is an over the road red light with a sign that says "stop here on red." Guess what, they end up on the tracks. Sometimes, you just can't fix stupid no matter how many rules, regulations, safety devices, etc. you throw on people.

Slopes09
11-26-2005, 04:13 AM
NTSB just announced this morning that the gates were functioning properly.
"John Pease, 32, who lives near the site said he didn't see any warning lights flashing. "The gates were definitely up," he said."
He probably looked after the train went by.

It must have been a slow news day Wednesday because this was plastered over every channel that night when we went to visit my grandma.