The family of a Metra passenger killed by a train truck has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit, saying the Commuter Rail Agency and BNSF Railroad on which the train was traveling should have known that it was at the Clarendon Hills crossing. The construction has made it dangerous. ,
In the lawsuit, one of the daughters, who is the administrator of the estate of Christina Lopez, who died in the accident, said that ongoing construction at the crossing caused traffic backup, and that “other vehicles were stuck on the tracks or obstructed.” Metra and BNSF should have instructed, educated, trained, communicated and/or informed their staff about the precautions to be taken around the crossing, she said in the suit.
The lawsuit, brought this week by Josephine Klonowski in Cook County court, also names a moving company as defendants who, according to the lawsuit, were the owner of the truck that got stuck on the tracks, and an employee who says was driving the truck. The employee has not been cited or charged, and the National Transportation Safety Board is continuing to investigate the accident.
Lopez, 72, died on May 11, when she was hit by a truck stuck on the tracks at the Prospect Avenue crossing near the Clarendon Hills train station when she was aboard Metra’s BNSF Line. The NTSB said in a preliminary report in June that the lives of two other passengers were not believed to be in danger, and that two crew members were injured, according to Metra. According to the NTSB, three people in the truck before the collision survived and no one was injured.
Metra said the train was not running at its usual time and was running an express for Union station at the time of the accident. The NTSB stated that the engine was in the rear of the train, meaning that a rail car carrying passengers first hit the truck, which rammed and damaged the side of the rail car, causing the main level seating. and the window of the train was damaged. Lopez was kicked out of the rail car and the truck caught fire.
Lopez, who lives in Downers Grove, was on her way to visit a sister in La Grange when the collision happened. Her family described her as a loving grandmother of five years, a mother of three “very, very strong women” and a devoted sister and friend to many.
Her death was the second accident involving the death of a passenger in Metra’s history.
In the lawsuit, Klonowski accused Metra and BNSF of negligence because they failed to educate or inform their employees about construction and conditions at the Prospect Avenue crossing and failed to take other steps, including imposing speed restrictions.
The suit also alleges negligence on the moving company, Dales Moving and Storage, and the truck driver.
Metra and BNSF declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing pending litigation.
A person who answered the phone at Dales Moving also declined to comment or provide his name, and said the driver also declined to comment.
Understanding why the accident happened would put Lopez’s family off guard, his attorney, Steven Jambois, said. He hoped that Lopez’s death would lead to a series of failures on several levels, he said.
“(The family) is really motivated to make sure this doesn’t happen again, and to really know what happened this time,” he said.