NTSB documents delve into details of fatal Metra crash with truck in Clarendon Hills

A slew of National Transportation Safety Board documents released Wednesday give new insight into a fatal crash between a Metra train and a truck one year ago in Clarendon Hills.

Christina Lopez, a Downers Grove grandmother of five, was killed on May 11, 2022, after being ejected from the eastbound BNSF train as the fiery collision occurred.

One unanswered question concerns why the truck, owned by La Grange-based Del's Moving Inc., remained on the crossing in downtown Clarendon Hills.

The driver and a passenger who escaped told the NTSB the 2004 International box truck was running normally and had been refueled that day.

But as the driver "traversed the crossing, the engine suddenly cut off," the NTSB reported. "He stepped on the foot brake, depressed the clutch, but the engine would not start."

The passenger said he "felt the truck hit a bump ... which caused the engine to cut off."

At the time, Clarendon Hills was undertaking a streetscape project with construction on both sides of the tracks.

Video footage indicates the truck "shook slightly" at 8:15 a.m. when it drove north onto the crossing, then "lurched forward" and ceased moving.

The NTSB reported a vertical drop-off of about 1.5 inches for northbound vehicles at the crossing.

Officials also noted that village policies requiring vehicles weighing more than 16,000 pounds to use designated truck routes were not followed.

The truck driver, 54, received his first driver's license in Yugoslavia and trained in vehicle/truck operations in the Yugoslavian military, the NTSB stated. However, "the crash driver did not possess a commercial driver's license."

In addition, "the driver had an expired DOT medical certificate that had expired in November of 2019, he had attempted to renew his medical certification in 2020 but was denied a new medical certificate pending information from his physician."

Investigators have concluded the train's "speed did not exceed the limit of 70 mph during the events listed on the timeline."

When the crash occurred, the Metra locomotive was pushing the train from the rear. At the front was the cab car, with six passengers and an engineer operating the controls.

On impact, the truck spun around and smashed into the right side of the cab car, causing extensive damage. Lopez was ejected through a left-side window.

Two other passengers, plus the train's engineer and conductor, suffered minor injuries.

Metra and the village of Clarendon Hills declined to comment on the NTSB documents. Del's Moving did not return a request seeking comment.

The NTSB has yet to issue its final report.

'This accident was preventable': Family of grandmother killed in Metra crash wants answers NTSB focusing on why truck stayed on the tracks before fatal crash

What will NTSB consider when it probes tragic Clarendon Hills Metra crash?

Lawsuit in fatal Metra collision alleges road construction played role

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.