CHICAGO (CBS) – For most people the deadly tragedies of trains hitting pedestrians or vehicles are scenes from afar, but for conductor Gordon Bowe they are haunting realities.
For decades, Metra riders saw him as their smiling conductor, not knowing memories of the fatal impact of his train with a car full of teenagers racing to cross the tracks were never far away.
“It makes it hard because we cry and bleed too, along with the families that lost the loved ones,” Bowe said.
The South Shore Line is now providing counseling services to the crew whose train fatally hit two Chicago police officers Monday night. Bowe says those are services that weren’t always available.
“There are some of my fellow workers who resigned from the railroad because it’s too much stress to handle,” he said.
Conductors are the captains of the train, responsible for assessing the accident scene on foot before first responders arrive.
“You’re always in the back of your mind,” he said. “What are you going to see when you get there? What are you going to see when you get there?”
When asked how he holds it together, Bowe said, “I got to thinking good therapy is teaching.”
In 1996 Bowe began speaking about the dangers of coming too close to trains. Through Operation Life Saver he meets with more than 100 school and community groups a year.
He says it doesn’t really make it easier on him.
“But it’s fulfilling,” Bowe said. “If you had one or two people who caught the message, it’s worth it.”