Family gets $36 million settlement after train derailment

The family of a Rockford woman who died and whose pregnant daughter lost her baby in a 2009 train derailment will receive a $36.2 million settlement from Canadian National Railway.

Witnesses saw Zoila Tellez, 41, run from her car as she tried to escape from the derailing train that set off a fiery explosion on June 19, 2009. She made it 20 feet on foot before she fell and died. The rail cars were loaded with thousands of gallons of highly flammable ethanol, which sparked a massive explosion.

Tellez’s husband, Jose Tellez, will receive $22.5 million. The couple’s 19-year-old daughter, Adriana, was lost her baby and she will receive $13.7 million. Jose Tellez had second and third-degree burns over 25 percent of his body. Adriana Tellez was burned on her face, chest, shoulder, arms and hands.

Jose Tellez’s case was settled before trial, his attorneys said. Adriana Tellez’s case was settled during jury deliberations, her attorneys said. Their family was waiting for the train to pass when it derailed.

“The Tellez family has endured a terrible tragedy, and CN wishes to express again its sincerest regrets and deepest sympathies to the entire Tellez family. No amount of money can replace the family’s losses,” Canadian National Railway spokesman Patrick Waldron said. He said the settlements are the end of remaining litigation involving the derailment.

The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the case.

This June 20, 2009, aerial photo provided by the National Transportation Safety Board shows the aftermath of a Canadian National Railway freight train derailment in Cherry Valley, Ill. Rail cars loaded with thousands of gallons of highly flammable ethanol exploded in flames the day before from the derailment. Associated Press
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