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posted: 3/19/2010 12:01 AM

Minutes before Metra tragedy caught on tape

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Metra is releasing dramatic footage of the moments before a southbound train struck a woman and a child over the weekend in North Chicago.

Blanca Villanueza-Sanchez, 34, of North Chicago was trying to beat the train Saturday morning while carrying her 1-year-old niece, Maria Cruz, also of North Chicago.

Villanueza-Sanchez was killed instantly while the baby died later at Vista Medical Center-East in Waukegan.

"Our engineers tell us they see this every single day," Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said. "We want people to understand when they do this, they put themselves at risk. It's dangerous behavior."

The decision to release the video was prompted by media requests, officials said.

According to Operation Lifesaver, a rail safety organization, Illinois ranks high among states with rail crossing fatalities. The state had 17 deaths at grade crossings in 2009.