Clarendon Hills Metra crash victim identified as Downers Grove woman, 72; BNSF station remains closed

Clarendon Hills Metra crash victim identified as Downers Grove woman, 72;  BNSF station remains closed

CLARENDON HILLS, Ill. (WLS) – The woman killed in a Metra accident in Clarendon Hills on Wednesday morning has been identified.

Christina Lopez, 72, was killed and four others injured in a rush-hour accident involving a panel van on Wednesday morning.

She was retired with three daughters, her family’s attorneys said Thursday.

The National Transportation Safety Board is now leading the investigation after Lopez was killed and two other passengers and two BNSF employees injured in the crash at the Prospect Avenue intersection. All injuries were described as minor.

“All of us at Metra and BNSF Railway are devastated by this death and we will be working hand-in-hand with the NTSB to find out what happened,” said Metra spokesman Michael Gillis.

Truck catches fire after being hit by a Metra train

The NTSB is expected to provide an update on the crash at 3:00 p.m. Thursday as the badly damaged and burned-out truck remains at the scene.

It appeared Lopez was thrown from inside the train when he hit the truck.

The incident made for a chaotic and scary morning for many commuters and people downtown.

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John Johnson heard the Metra train from his patio on Wednesday morning.

“I heard him lying on the horn, not like a regular level crossing, he was just lying on it, and then I heard the pop of air being released from the emergency brake,” Johnson said. “We are given one lifetime – how many years will it be? We do not know it. I just feel bad for the victim and his family.”

The accident appeared to have happened when a lorry got stuck in the tracks as a Metra train approached Clarendon Hills.

Metra officials provide update on fatal crash

Video captured by witnesses at the scene showed the initial chaos of the train blasting through the van before bursting into flames. Witness Tom Zurgot said he was in a car just behind the truck.

“All of a sudden, all I saw was the three guys in the truck jumping out as fast as they could and then the train hit it head-on at full speed,” Zurgot said. “It was shocking … You see videos of trains hitting cars all the time, but then you watch it live and you see a truck being lifted into the air and being pushed about 100 feet.”

The men in that truck were able to be evacuated without injury.

The blast from the accident happened just meters away from commuters waiting at the metro station.

“I’m a little worried about my kids and my family and friends who come here all the time,” said Odd Joergenrud. “I think they made it too narrow and it’s too easy for traffic to stop. And it’s very easy to blame all the drivers for being too close together, but when the intersection is moving as slowly as it is now, that creates situations.”

Chopper7 on fatal Metra accident

This station in Clarendon Hills has been under construction for about a year as a new station is being built. Commuters think construction work may have stalled the truck on those tracks.

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A Metra spokesman said this was the second accident in Metra’s history in which a passenger was killed. The first fatal accident occurred in Chicago on September 17, 2005, when two passengers died in an accident on the Rock Island District Line near the 47th Street Bridge.

“The taxi leading the train would have a front-facing camera that would be downloaded,” Gillis said.

It is unclear whether the truck driver will be summoned.

Metra BNSF timetable changes

On Thursday, Metra said the BNSF line would operate on a Saturday schedule. There will be no express service and trains will not stop at Clarendon Hills station.

Metra also said drivers can use the Union Pacific West Line as an alternative and call the RTA at (312) 836-7000 for travel assistance.

The S-Bahn also suggested using Westmont or Hinsdale stations instead.

Commuters should still expect delays.

The video in the player above is from a previous report.

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