Truck Driver Killed, Several Hurt In Metra Train Crash

UPDATED 05/13/11 6:00 p.m.

MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. (CBS) — A Metra train derailed after crashing into a dump truck in Mount Prospect Friday morning, causing the truck to burst into flames and killing the driver.

Twenty-three people on the train were taken to hospitals.

CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reports around 8:40 a.m., Union Pacific/Northwest Line train No. 636 was traveling at a high rate of speed near Mount Prospect Road and Northwest Highway when it collided with the truck, which was attempting to drive around closed crossing gates.

metra train accident Truck Driver Killed, Several Hurt In Metra Train Crash

This Metra train derailed after hitting a truck on Friday in Mt. Prospect. (CBS)

The five-axle dump truck, which was carrying a load of concrete, burst into flame and was destroyed. Police identified the driver as 59-year-old Kazimierz Karasek of Prospect Heights, who was killed by the impact.

Officials say Karasek had a history of driving violations. They said it appeared that he may have driven into the path of the train simply because he was in a hurry.  

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Nancy Harty Reports

Meanwhile, the lead car of the inbound train derailed and was dragged along the tracks.

The gates were down, and signals were apparently working, according to police.

Passengers on the train were shaken up. They described being thrown forward and out of their seats from the impact, which showered the debris of particles from the train and the concrete, and seeing flames rushing underneath.

The front car derailed after what sounded like an explosion, passengers on the train said.

Archana Sai of Algonquin described her reaction when she saw the aftermath: “Oh, my God. I’m lucky to be alive today.”

driver Truck Driver Killed, Several Hurt In Metra Train Crash

Kazimierz Karasek (CBS)

Another passenger described the fear everyone felt at the point of impact.

“An initial bump, and then the bumping just became really strong, like an earthquake, and I thought we were derailing, but the bumping just continued like we were rolling over something, and I saw flames shooting up through the floor at the entrance of the car, and people were standing there, and I just heard screaming,” she said.

Another woman said: “We were thrown from the impact, and then all the windows on our side of the train were blown out, so we kind of ducked behind our seats as the debris flew over us. The passenger sitting closest to the emergency window – we had him pull the window out to relieve some of the smoke, because it was just dark and smoky, and then we started to pull debris out of the way so we could make our way off the car.”

Around 10 a.m., a few injured people were taken away on stretchers. Near the tracks, many of the people evacuated from the train called loved ones on their cell phones.

Everyone aboard the train was evaluated by emergency medical technicians. Ultimately, 23 passengers were taken to area hospitals, and 10 were treated at the scene.

All passengers were removed from the train, which normally would hold about 800, though it still had nine stops to make before getting to its destination.

Most of the passengers were taken by bus from the Cumberland train depot.

Train No. 636 originated at Harvard and was due at Ogilvie Station at 9:23 a.m. It had just left the Mount Prospect station and the crash occurred at 8:40 a.m. between the Cumberland station and the Mount Prospect station at a crossing where the gates were down, Metra spokesman Tom Miller said.

Many people said when they first felt the bump and heard the noise, they thought it was an act of terrorism, stemming from the fear surrounding Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs.

Train service, with delays, was restored by late Friday afternoon.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

metra crash ground1 Truck Driver Killed, Several Hurt In Metra Train Crash

Workers at the scene of an accident between a Metra train and truck in Mt. Prospect. (Credit: Nancy Harty/Newsradio 780)

  • KE

    My prayers go out to the family of the driver, the train engineers and the commuters. Such a tragedy

  • zagwee

    Wow such a tragedy. My heart goes out to the drivers family and friends.

  • T C

    my heart goes out to KE, for her heart going out to the families.

    • KE

      Thanks TC– I could not LIVE without your thanks LOL

  • Bill S.

    Cannot figure out which direction truck was going. Could not have been traveling north … or entire cargo area would have been demolished. But, if he was headed around gates going south, that train turned the cargo and cab 180 degrees. That the entire train did not derail is a miracle. Must have been top speed when hit it (between station stops).

  • Dave

    “CBS 2’s Kris Habermehl reports around 8:40 p.m., ”

    This happened last night?

    • MM

      Really dude?


    Wow i stop by that area sometimes and its so quiet a nromal suburban business day evolves around there and nothing ever happens as horrific as this!

  • sean

    i was on the train in the back car. The truck exploded and people in the front cars jumped out of the windows because there was fire burning underneath the front 2 cars. i spoke with a girl who was on the second car and she said people went flying and smoke and debree filled the car. the fire department was there before we had a chance to get out.

  • Bill S.

    Metra has to get rid of the push-pull operation. The lead car on inbound trains is less-than-affectionately known as a ‘coffin car.’

    • Kalmbach

      Funny, I’ve been around railroads my entire life, and I’ve never heard that term. Also, what you propose is totally impractical, if you want to maintain the same level of service. The facilities for turning trains around at the outer terminal stations simply do not exist, and switching them around would require a great deal of additional time, along with turntables for the locomotives.

    • Jenny R.

      The reason it’s a ‘coffin car’ at all is because of people trying to beat trains in their automobiles and blatantly disobeying lights, gates and alarm bells. Without ignorant drivers who think they are indestructible, the train lines are extremely safely.
      I take the train every day to and from work and the only times there have been accidents was when someone thought that their car would beat the train.

  • OB

    Idiot dump truck driver. These guys are in such a hurry most of the time. I have had 2 windshields cracked in the last year from rocks falling out of their trailers.

    • AE

      Do you not realized that the driver died from this? No matter how it happened his family and friends are suffering from this. Quit it with the ignorance and realize that these are real people and all people make mistakes. We’re very lucky to know that the passengers are all safe.

    • Bill

      Yeah, that’ll teach them for breaking your windshield!

    • Beel

      Maybe you are following too closely…………..

  • ROZA

    May God bless the truck driver, his family and friends and also the passengers on the train that were injured!

    My prayers go out to you.

    • JimBo

      “He desreved to die?”
      What planet are you from where it’s ok to write stuff like that.
      YOU should be ashamed.

      • KE

        I am not quite sure where you reas “he deserved to die” and who said it… but, I would NOT exacty go against what this person said. If the dump truck driver KNOWLINGLY stopped on the tracks with the intention of making a crash occur and thereby killing or injuring possibly hundreds of people– then he got what Phil Pagano got when he decided to step in front of the train.

        After all that has been uncoivered with the death of Obama — do we even know if this guy was a terrorist or terrorist want to be.

      • Roberta Waker

        The death of OBAMA? Don’t you mean OSAMA? President OBAMA is alive and well.

      • KE

        Sorry — OSAMA BIN LADEN

      • MM

        This was a family man. He has kids and grandkids. People make mistakes so you can’t just assume he was a terrorist. He’s lived in the area for years, and those who knew him know he was a good hearted man. No one ever ‘deserves’ to die. Think before you speak. No matter how it happened, his family and friends are suffering and you have no right to be so insensible.

  • ivana

    Thanks for prayers, he was a good man. He just make a huge mistake. I will pray for him and his family. And for those who are saying “stupid truck drivers”, he was my husband friend, they just trying to feed their familys, compiding with union (who is giving all jobs for minorities) and gas prices. Tough life.

    • Kalmbach

      I see what you mean. I don’t think that the Teamsters would be willing to overlook his 50 traffic citations in the past 25 years.

    • MrDent

      wht do you mean minorities..people are tire of unions..yeah the big companies..are tired..and what you or I may not work for..the minority who has choice a..rob steal amd maim for survival..option for might seem to be below standards and just get by..option b is the yes he made a misjudgement in his calculations..the reat of what you said is hog wash..

  • Gabe

    Stupid driver deserved what he got . HE WENT AROUND THE GATES MAN. It’s obvious this idiot was suicidal. Thank goodness this idiot didn’t kill anyone but himself. What a dumb ass. Now someone has to pay millions.

    • LK

      This is someone’s dad, husband, son, grandfather. No matter how it happened, people are suffering from it. He made a mistake, but that doesn’t give you the right to call him a suicidal idiot. Have a heart.

  • ivana

    Thanks for prayers, he was a good man. He just made a huge mistake. I will pray for him and his family. And for those who are saying “stupid truck drivers”, he was my husband friend, he was just trying to feed his family, compiding with union (who is giving all jobs for minorities) and gas prices. Tough life. For the truck drivers and for all of us.

    • Gear Jammer

      No offense, but no matter how hard life is for us truck drivers, I would never put anyone’s life (especially my own) in jeapordy over a load of dirt. No matter what, I NEVER get in a hurry. It’s just not worth it. This should serve as a lesson to all drivers. No load is worth your life.

  • me

    attempting to drive around the gates…yes, what a tragedy. one idiot CAN ruin your entire day.

  • ivana

    amhere at 6:26 PM May 13, 2011
    I saw the accident. It was terrible. Huge ball of fire on impact. It was like hollywood, I expected to see Nicholas Cage walking out of the fire.
    I didn’t see any flashing lights or crossing gates going down (although I had cars in front of me). The crossing gates were both up straight up and undamaged when I noticed them – maybe 15 minutes after the crash. Seems that if the gate was down and the impact threw the truck cab one direction and the trailer the other, it would have damaged the crossing gate.
    It was a dump truck filled with very large slabs of concrete. And it was at Mr Prospect Road and Northwest Highway.
    Very sad and upsetting.

  • Taxpayer 2

    My heart goes out also to everyone that was involved in this unnecessary tragedy. What in the world was this truck driver thinking? Maybe he was running late or something. My condolence goes out to the dead truck driver family as well.

    It will be a wonderful idea for all the people that made it through this miracle alive is to go to church Sunday or the day you can go to a church and give God a big thank from your heart. You all have found “favor”. Continue to be bless.

  • Mege

    Wielka tragedia dla rodziny glebokie wyrazy wspolczucia niech spoczywa w pokoju.

  • Roberta Waker

    No problem. Easy to confuse the two.

  • gv

    We keep hearing stories of the passengers from the train, and what the police says, but I haven’t heard any stories of people who were in their cars at the intersection, who witness the accident. What realy happened? Usually after gates come down its about 10-15 seconds until the train comes thru, and I didn’t hear anyone said that train was braking before the impact. Did gates really worked? Because I didn’t think anyone is stupid enough to cut right in front of the train, and for u people, who says “stupid truck driver”, u don’t know what really happened, u know what media wanted u to know, because someone had to take fault for this, so why not, blame a dead truck driver, who can’t speak for himself, so don’t talk trash until u get all your facts straigh, so if there anyone out there, who really saw what happened ( it was a rush hour, so it should of been quite a few cars out there ), please share it with us.

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