CHICAGO (CBS) — A man was killed and three others were injured when a Metra train collided with a car on the tracks in Hometown earlier this month.
Could the accident have been prevented?
CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey spoke Tuesday with a woman who claims Metra knew the intersection was dangerous years ago. But she said Metra dragged its feet when it came to making a fix.
“This is something that could have been stopped or could have been prevented,” said Jasmine Kemp.
The video of this month’s crash was more than just startling for Jasmine Kemp. It’s personal.
In December 2015, her sister, 18-year-old Alexis Kemp and her cousin, 20-year-old Juniel Kemp, lost their lives in the very same spot along the Metra SouthWest Line track at 87th Street and Pulaski Road.
The car they were riding in was caught on the tracks after the gate closed behind it.
“That’s going to hurt for the rest of my life,” Kemp said.
If the account sounds familiar, it’s because the circumstances are identical to the train crash on Wednesday, Feb. 12 that took the life of 19-year-old Christopher Davis.
“They’re falling asleep at the switch at this case,” said Ben Crane, who represents the Kemp family and other victims injured or killed in that 2015 crash.
He said Metra has been on alert about the confusing layout of the 87th and Pulaski crossing for years.
And last week, Metra confirmed it.
The transit agency revealed that the Illinois Commerce Commission studied the crossing in 2017 and recommended several changes – including moving the gates closer to the tracks and changing the angle of those gates.
But it wasn’t until 2019 that the project even made the cut for Metra’s annual work plan, and it won’t be done until the end of this summer.
“Something should have been done right then and there,” Jasmine Kemp said.
The timeline is hard to swallow for Kemp, who now feels like her sister – just months away from graduating from high school – died in vain.
“They have a moral duty to the public to fix this problem,” Crane said. “This has nothing to do with the lawsuit. This has to do with the safety of people in that neighborhood; that area.”
“It’s already been someone else after us,” Kemp added. Hopefully it’s not another one.”
She said she worries there could be more loss of life at the site.
“No one else should feel this pain,” Kemp said.
Kemp said she hopes there might be some other precautionary measures put in place before this summer’s construction.
Metra said despite the planned changes, the crossing at 79th and Pulaski currently meets state and federal standards for safety.