$6 million settlement in Naperville dance teacher's death
Nearly two years after a Naperville dance instructor was struck and killed by a train due to malfunctioning crossing equipment, her family has reached a $6 million settlement with the railroad company.
Katie A. Lunn was 26 when her SUV was struck by a high-speed Amtrak train while returning from seeing some of her students perform at a dance competition.
The wrongful death lawsuit claimed the railroad crossing signals were deactivated earlier that day while Canadian National Railway crews worked on the crossing. Neither the gate nor lights were turned backed on after the work was complete.
Prosecutors obtained evidence including a video of the crash, and the defendant, Illinois Central Railroad Company, fully admitted liability for Lunn's death.
A trial by jury to decide damages was set for Tuesday morning, but the sides reached the $6 million settlement Monday night.
Lunn's family filed in the lawsuit in July 2010 seeking damages of more than $50,000, and said they planned to put a portion of the money toward the Keep the Smile Alive Katie Lunn Memorial Fund.
"Our primary focus has been and will continue to be the safety of others and that we will continue to work towards that goal with the hope that future loss of life can be prevented," said Katie's father, Jerry Lunn, in a statement.
Lunn lived in Chicago and was an instructor and manager at the School of Performing Arts in Naperville and at the Joffrey Ballet School in Chicago.
She was returning from Governors State University in University Park where she had watched nearly four dozen of her students perform at the American Dance Awards when the accident occurred.
There were "no lights, no gates, no anything," said Lauren Brown of Skokie, a Cook County prosecutor, after the accident. "There was no way for us to know there was a train coming, and at the point the conductor blew his horn when I was on the tracks, it was too late for anyone to change course."
Lunn was in traffic, but was driving over the tracks when she was struck.
Lunn graduated from Oklahoma City University with a degree in dance management and started at the School of Performing Arts about four or five years before she died.