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updated: 12/27/2011 5:55 PM

Former Palatine postal worker killed in car-train crash

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  • Palatine police and officials from Union Pacific Railroad investigate the car-train accident near Plum Grove and Palatine roads early Tuesday morning.

      Palatine police and officials from Union Pacific Railroad investigate the car-train accident near Plum Grove and Palatine roads early Tuesday morning.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine police and officials from Union Pacific Railroad investigate after a train collided with a car near Plum Grove and Palatine roads Tuesday morning.

      Palatine police and officials from Union Pacific Railroad investigate after a train collided with a car near Plum Grove and Palatine roads Tuesday morning.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • A 1999 Mercury was heavily damaged when it was struck by a train on the Union Pacific Northwest Line at Brockway Street in Palatine about 7:30 Tuesday morning. The impact killed the car's driver, 64-year-old Michael Levgard of Palatine.

      A 1999 Mercury was heavily damaged when it was struck by a train on the Union Pacific Northwest Line at Brockway Street in Palatine about 7:30 Tuesday morning. The impact killed the car's driver, 64-year-old Michael Levgard of Palatine.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Palatine police investigate wreckage Tuesday morning after a Metra train on the Union Pacific Northwest Line collided with a car and killed its driver.

      Palatine police investigate wreckage Tuesday morning after a Metra train on the Union Pacific Northwest Line collided with a car and killed its driver.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • The Palatine Police Department's Technical Accident Investigation Unit spent several hours Tuesday morning gathering evidence from the scene of a train-car crash at Brockway Street that killed 64-year-old Michael Levgard of Palatine.

      The Palatine Police Department's Technical Accident Investigation Unit spent several hours Tuesday morning gathering evidence from the scene of a train-car crash at Brockway Street that killed 64-year-old Michael Levgard of Palatine.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • This is the vehicle that was hit by a train Tuesday morning in Palatine.

      This is the vehicle that was hit by a train Tuesday morning in Palatine.
    Photo submitted by LG

  • This is the vehicle that was hit by a train Tuesday morning in Palatine.

      This is the vehicle that was hit by a train Tuesday morning in Palatine.
    Photo submitted by LG

  • Video: Train car collision

 
 

A retired letter carrier from Palatine was killed Tuesday morning when a Metra express train collided with his car, authorities said.

Michael Levgard, 64, was pronounced dead at the scene about 7:30 a.m., Palatine police said.

Authorities said they believe Levgard ignored warnings and went around the gates as he traveled north on North Brockway Street. A train traveling an estimated 60 mph hit his 1999 Mercury Sable, pushing it to Palatine Road before coming to a stop, authorities said.

The intersection where the crash occurred is a controlled crossing and all gates, bells and alarms were "working perfectly," Palatine fire Battalion Chief Patrick Gratzianna said.

Levgard was the only person in the car.

Train 622, running on Metra's Union Pacific Northwest Line, was headed from Barrington to Des Plaines, skipping stops such as Palatine, Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect, Gratzianna said.

Fire crews had to perform "extended extrication" for about 25 minutes to remove the victim from his vehicle and the vehicle from the front of the train.

"The car was damaged heavily, so it took multiple crews to remove all the metal, the doors, the hood, the roof," Gratzianna said.

Levgard retired more than a year ago from the U.S. Postal Service, where he started his career in 1976, spokesman Sean Hargadon said. He worked as a city letter carrier out of Palatine's main post office on Colfax Street.

Hargadon said counselors will be available to meet with postal employees, which is standard protocol in similar cases.

More than 15 firefighters, a dozen police officers and officials from Metra and Union Pacific were on scene for several hours.

Train 622 sustained minor damage to the front car and required maintenance. While passengers were waiting for the train to begin moving, Gratzianna said, an ambulance was dispatched for one passenger complaining of neck pain.

By 10 a.m., the train was on its way to the Arlington Park station, where passengers could get off, then take another train eastbound, Metra spokesman Michael Gilles said.

An outbound train had left the Palatine station about three minutes before the collision, Gilles said. Other trains began to run on the Northwest line about 9:15 a.m. when Metra was able to reopen one track in the area of the accident.

The Palatine Police Technical Accident Investigation Unit is investigating the crash.

• Staff writer Kimberly Pohl contributed to this report.

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