Lawsuit filed in fatal Metra collision alleges road construction played role

  • Christina Lopez

    Christina Lopez

  • A Metra railcar was extensively damaged and a passenger killed when a train struck a truck May 11 in Clarendon Hills.

    A Metra railcar was extensively damaged and a passenger killed when a train struck a truck May 11 in Clarendon Hills. Courtesy of NTSB

 
 
Updated 6/22/2022 7:10 PM

A lawsuit filed by the family of a Metra rider who died when a train collided with a truck in Clarendon Hills May 11 claims road construction on both sides of the tracks was a factor in the tragedy.

The suit, filed Wednesday in Cook County court, cites negligence on the part of Metra, BNSF Railroad and Del's Moving Inc.

 

Christina Lopez, a Downers Grove grandmother of five, was riding in the front car of an inbound BNSF Metra train when it struck a truck that was stopped on the tracks.

The three occupants of the moving company truck escaped, but Lopez was ejected through a window after the crash.

The wrongful-death lawsuit filed on behalf of Lopez's family states that construction on both sides of the BNSF tracks at Prospect Avenue created unsafe conditions.

The roadwork had resulted in delays, stuck vehicles on the tracks and some near-misses, attorney Steven Jambois said.

Metra and BNSF should have known "the Prospect Avenue crossing constituted a particular hazard to the public and to passing trains," the filing says. Attorneys also argue that the railroads should have required slow speeds in the area and educated train crews to watch out for vehicles on the tracks.

Metra officials said they had no comment on the case.

The lawsuit also argues that Countryside-based Del's Moving Inc. and the truck driver were negligent and failed to take proper actions to avoid a collision. The company did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

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The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash but has not provided details about why the truck was halted on the tracks. The truck was hit by a descending gate, and warning bells and lights were working.

Jambois noted the complaint will be updated as more information is available.

After the train struck the left front side of the truck, the vehicle spun around, and part of it ripped into the front railcar's exterior, then penetrated into passenger seating on the lower level, an NTSB preliminary report said.

The engineer had hit the brakes and was sounding the horn, officials said.

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