Chicago bound Amtrak train hits and kills Joliet couple

In Romeoville, Illinois an elderly husband and wife were killed Thursday afternoon when their car was hit by an Amtrak train after they allegedly went around a descending crossing arm and started across the tracks, according to the Naperville Sun. The train accident occurred at New Avenue and Romeo Road around 1 pm.

The couple, Harry C. Hoffman, age 74 and his wife, Doreen J. Hofman, age 64 died at the scene. The damage to the vehicle was so bad that the police are not yet able to state who was driving the car. One occupant was ejected from the vehicle and the car was badly damaged and knocked several hundred feet down the tracks.

There are several issues related to the train crash being reported. First, while the gates descended there was still a green light for traffic, which police are speculating may have confused the driver. Further, witnesses are reporting that the car made a right turn on to the tracks as the gates were still descending, not after they were already down.

It is likely that Chicago train crash lawyers will soon be involved. The attorneys that handle the case will likely retain train safety experts to help them determine the causes of the accident.

One issue that I am curious about is the the fact that the couple’s car was hit while the gates were still on the way down, or had just gotten down, by a train traveling at a high speed through a congested suburban area. (Were the gates dropping too late? Was the train speeding?) Further, I would like to know more about the traffic lights and whether the crossing is confusing to drivers.

It is being reported that this deadly accident is not the first train vs. motor vehicle collision at this crossing.

If it is determined that the driver of the car was the sole cause of the accident, the estate of the passenger (whether it is the husband or the wife) will be able to make a claim against the driver’s auto insurance policy. Since it is a death case, the estate should be able to collect the car insurance policy limits.

The train was from San Antonio and had 250 passengers and 12 crew. No injuries to passengers have been reported, however it is likely that several passengers may have been injured due to the severity of the impact.

Whatever the outcome, it is a good bet that this investigation and case is far from over.

2 killed when Amtrak train hits car, the Chicago Tribune.

2 people killed when Amtrak train hits car, WGN TV.

Related Web Resources:

Railroad Safety, Federal Railroad Administration.

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