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Article updated: 7/6/2012 11:29 AM

Glenview couple identified as train wreck victims

By Madhu Krishnamurthy

A Glenview couple was killed in Wednesday afternoon's train derailment in which a bridge collapsed onto Shermer Road in Glenview, according to a law firm representing the family.

The victims were identified as Burton Lindner, 69, and Zorine Lindner, 70, who lived about a block from the derailment site, according to a spokeswoman at the Chicago law firm of Michael LaMonica.

Autopsies are scheduled today and results will be available later this afternoon, a spokeswoman for the Cook County medical examiner's office said.


The Lindners' vehicle was traveling south under the Shermer Road overpass just south of Willow Road at the time of the derailment at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.


"At the time of the accident, given the derailed coal cars and amount of debris, it was not immediately clear if any cars had been trapped underneath the collapsed bridge, or if there had been injuries," Glenview Fire Chief Wayne Globerger said.


It wasn't until 10 a.m. Thursday that Union Pacific crews had cleared enough debris to uncover part of the crushed vehicle, which was found in the middle of the overpass.


A total of 31 rail cars fully loaded with coal went off the tracks, leaving mounds of debris; 28 of those cars had piled up on top of the bridge, causing it to collapse, Union Pacific spokesman Tom Lange said. Each coal car weighed between 75 and 85 tons, he said.


"Our preliminary investigation indicates that it was probably heat related to the rails, which caused the derailment, and then the weight of roughly 28 coal cars piling onto that bridge caused the bridge to collapse," Lange said. "The rails expand. And if they expand, they are not at the right width apart for the wheels of the train, which causes a derailment. Tracks are inspected a couple of times a week in extreme heat. Our inspections were up-to-date."
The train, which included three locomotives and 138 cars, was traveling from Wyoming to Wisconsin.


Lange said crews are now expected to have the scene cleared by Saturday since discovery of the trapped vehicle delayed cleanup.


The road won't reopen until the bridge is replaced. That could take several months, Lange said. In the meantime, the rail bed will be reconstructed with gravel to allow trains to run until the bridge is replaced.


"We are working with the local communities to develop a long-term detour plan," Lange said. "It's our bridge, so we will plan to rebuild it."

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