NTSB investigating rare Metra passenger death after crash with truck on BNSF line
National Transportation Safety Board authorities are investigating Metra's first passenger death since 2005 after a train collided with a truck Wednesday at a crossing in Clarendon Hills.
The crash occurred after 8 a.m. at Prospect Avenue in Clarendon Hills' downtown. It resulted in the death of a woman and minor injuries to two other passengers as well as the engineer and conductor.
The identity of the woman killed has been withheld pending notification of family, the DuPage County coroner's office said. An autopsy will be conducted Thursday.
Trains were suspended for about six hours on the BNSF, Metra's busiest line, but limited service resumed for the afternoon rush. BNSF riders wishing to avoid any schedule changes should check Metra and be prepared for delays near the Clarendon Hills station.
One woman who witnessed the crash while waiting in her car at the crossing looked somberly at the charred remains of the truck Wednesday morning.
The gates were down, and the truck appeared stuck on the tracks, she said.
"I heard someone yelling, 'Get out of the truck!'" added the witness, who asked that her name not be used.
Fire erupted right away with flames reaching to the top of light poles, but there was no explosion, she said.
The truck was apparently a moving truck, Metra officials said. The occupants of the truck were not injured.
"All of us at Metra and BNSF are devastated by this death and will cooperate with the NTSB," spokesman Michael Gillis said.
It's the first passenger fatality on the Metra system since two women were killed and about 100 passengers injured when a Rock Island Line train derailed on Sept. 17, 2005.
The NTSB is "launching a go-team to investigate Wednesday's grade crossing collision," with experts expected to arrive Wednesday evening, the agency said on Twitter.
Train No. 1242 originally was scheduled to pick up at all stations Wednesday morning, but Metra switched the train to an express with no planned stop in Clarendon Hills. Officials could not say at what speed it was traveling.
The crash left some debris on the tracks that included what appeared to be a window from the Metra train.
Clarendon Hills resident Mark Harrison wondered whether construction on both sides of the BNSF tracks that caused a dip in the road might have affected the truck.
"When you get to the tracks, there's a gap. It's like going over a curb," Harrison said. "If you don't slow down, you can feel it. My first thought was that could be an issue, but I'm not sure."