In October, a 26-year-old mother was killed and her two small sons were injured when the Dodge minivan they were riding in was struck by a Metra Rock Island train in Morgan Park. Tristian Hicks Williams was driving her two sons, 5-year-old JonKing and 4-year-old Jayvon, to school on 115th Street when the accident occurred. According to the engineer of the train and several witnesses, the collision happened after Williams reportedly drove around train crossing gates near Marshfield Avenue. After the initial impact, the minivan was dragged for several feet before it flipped and rolled.
Tragically, Williams was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Emergency responders transported her sons to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in critical condition. Jayvon suffered facial lacerations and other injuries while JonKing suffered two broken legs.
According to a Metra spokesperson, Meg Reile, the train that struck the minivan was travelling at 79 miles per hour. Reile said the train’s speed made it impossible to stop in time to avoid a collision. An accident witness, Perry Logan, stated the minivan was in front of his own automobile when the crossing gates came down to alert drivers to the oncoming train. Logan said Williams drove around the gates and appeared to panic when she realized the train was about to strike her vehicle. He also said he heard the train’s brakes squeal as it attempted to avoid hitting the minivan.
The exact cause of the fatal accident is currently under investigation. The crash was the 24th death involving a Metra train in 2012. 20 of those deaths reportedly involved a pedestrian fatality. The collision was also the sixth accident at the same train crossing since 1975. In each of the previous accidents, a driver reportedly drove around the crossing gates before being hit.
Railroad crossings are everywhere in the Chicago metro. Despite laws designed to protect the public, pedestrian and vehicle crashes with trains still occur. A car accident with a train may be caused by many factors including inadequate warning lights, crossing gate failure, and train speed. Unfortunately, accidents with trains normally result in catastrophic injuries or death. Injury claims that arise out of an accident with a train are often complex and involve numerous laws and regulations.
The Federal Railroad Administration regulates railroad safety throughout the nation. It’s Office of Railroad Safety employs Federal railroad safety inspectors and trains state inspectors. Part of their mandate is to understand why railroad-related accidents happen and analyze accident trends. The Agency reports that approximately 3,000 train accidents occur each year in the United States, leading to approximately 1,000 fatalities.
Accidents occurring from collisions with trains often must be dealt with differently than a typical two-car accident. For example, if the collision involved a government-owned train, special statutes of limitations may apply. Passengers injured while riding on a train often have special protections under the law, and railroad employees can receive compensation under special federal laws.
If you were hurt or someone you love was killed in an accident with a train, it is important to contact an attorney experienced in the special laws that govern railroad accidents. At Abels & Annes, P.C., our capable Chicago area train accident attorneys are available to assist you with your personal injury case seven days per week. For a free case consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer, please call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 475-9596 or contact us through our website.
“Bring It On” Actress Killed in Pedestrian Accident, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, October 29, 2012
Guilty finding in deadly Chicago hit and run accident, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, September 12, 2012
Victims ID’d in deadly train vs. minivan crash, by C. Hayes, WGN News
Mom killed, 2 sons hurt when Metra train hits van, by Jennifer Delgado, Bridget Doyle, and George Knue, Chicago Tribune