Abels & Annes

Major Train Derailment in Northbrook Causes One Fatality

UPDATED STORY: Tribune Local is now reporting that a vehicle has been found buried in the train wreckage and one person has been killed.

Officials said yesterday that no one had been injured, but today the work crew noticed part of a vehicle sticking out of the debris and started to dig around it with shovels.

Rescue workers are saying that one victim was in the car and that they are trying to remove the person. The name of the victim has not been reported.

Major Train Derailment in the Chicago area causes no injuries, but local residents are nervous

As an Illinois train crash lawyer, how do I know local residents are nervous? Because I am one of them. I live in the area of the derailment and I travel under that viaduct several times a week.

During the 4th of July celebrations in Glenview and Northbrook, the train crash was all people were talking about. Yesterday afternoon I went out to the accident scene, which was crowded with concerned locals. The freight train was carrying coal. Fortunately no injuries have been reported.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the train derailed near Willow Road and Shermer Avenue in Northbrook at 1:45 p.m. Investigators are currently looking into the cause of the accident.

Glenview and Northbrook residents were reminded of a 2009 derailment in the same location which also caused significant damage and resulted in no injuries.

The train that derailed yesterday was large with three engines and 138 cars. About a third of the train crossed the overpass at Shermer Avenue successfully before the bridge collapsed, causing 31 cars to derail and starting a small fire. The remaining cars and the engines did not derail.

Several residents were on scene shortly after the accident. While it appears that no one was injured, a derailment of this magnitude could have easily claimed the lives of pedestrians and motorists in the area, as well as individuals on board the train. Many Northbrook residents remain nervous about their safety after this accident.

The derailment occurred on a stretch of Union Pacific tracks that does not service Metra passenger trains. However many pedestrians work and live in the area where the derailment occurred.

Immediate plans are to construct a temporary track by placing stones where the bridge used to be with long term plans to build a new bridge.

Roads in the area were closed and cleanup crews were on the scene yesterday, though it could take months for all of the cleanup to be completed, leaving area residents with the remnants of the derailment for some time to come.

I can tell you that residents in the area are certainly talking about a lot of “what ifs” today. What if a car was under the bridge at the time of the accident, what if a pedestrian was on the sidewalk. Two derailments in the same location has everyone in the community very concerned.

Personally, I can tell you that once repairs are made I will no longer be driving under that viaduct. I will take the long way, not worth the risk.

It is also being reported that the current heat wave in Chicago may have caused the steel train rails to expand, which in turn may have caused the derailment, this according to a Union Pacific spokesperson. The investigation as to exactly what caused the accident could take significant time, maybe months.

The spokesperson also stated that Union Pacific inspectors were on the tracks before the accident looking for safety issues, which are routinely done in extreme weather. Because of the heat, trains were under a 40 mph speed limit, down from the normal 50 mph.