Bad Timing :: The CTA train ride that could have been a lot worse.

NOTE :: This story is from LGT2.com I am migrating some of the fixed stories over to the LimeANALog as part of a web site overhaul that will take place sometime this year ;)

Kevin Buckstiegel • August 3rd, 2001

Had an interesting morning today (Friday, Aug 3rd, 2001).

After hearing that the train that I usually take to work was going to be delayed for 17 minutes, I decided to take a train that I normally would not take. Two stops away from where I was going to be getting off, the train stopped, which it does normally. Then out of no where KABOOM. Another train behind us never stopped and slammed right into us. Still don’t know why exactly. I was sitting right in the back of the last cart on the train. After being hit, I found myself in the next seat beside me, half underneath the person that was sitting next to me. All the people standing were flat on the floor, on each other. Then the lady next to me start gushing blood from the back of her head.
As a lady got up from the floor, she fainted and went back down hitting her head. At that point all I could think was that the worst wasn’t over... We could still fall off the platform which is two stories high. Luckily we didn’t, otherwise I’m not sure if I would be here.

It sucked and it was very scary, to say the least.
Ended up stranded for two hours waiting for rescuers to get the seriously injured off the train. They realized that the train was actually still on the track, so we could be moved to the nearest stop where we finally got off.

So luckily I wasn’t hurt (minor back ache), just a little shook up as you can imagine. They said that if the train behind us were going any faster, we would have been derailed and possibly have fallen off the platform. This had happened back in 1977.[see picture to the right]

A guy in my cart took out his video camera and recorded some of what was going on... If you notice, I have quite a grip on my bag. My computer was unharmed :)

ARTICLE :: Elevated Trains Collide in Chicago

More than 140 Injured

One packed commuter train rear-ended another on the elevated tracks just north of downtown during morning rush hour Friday, sending more than 140 people to hospitals and stranding hundreds of commuters for hours.

None of the 1,200-plus passengers suffered life-threatening injuries and neither train derailed or toppled to the busy streets below.

But dozens of passengers got off the trains bloodied, bruised or at least frightened by the experience. Most of those taken to hospitals, by ambulances and city buses, had minor injuries, but a few were listed in serious condition.

"I heard the impact and there was smoke, soot and dirt everywhere. Things were flying down from the ceiling. There was a moment of chaos on the train; people were yelling to see if anyone was hurt bad," said Michael Cohen of Chicago, a passenger in the rear car of the train that got hit. "The conductor of the other train was sitting there, 10 feet away from me, with his head down like, 'What just happened?"'

The Chicago Transit Authority spent the day trying to answer that question.

Normal rush hour congestion had one of the trains stopped on the tracks between stations when the other train, rounding a curve at no more than 6 mph, struck it from behind at about 9 a.m., said Frank Kruesi, president of the CTA.

"There was a really loud boom and there was smoke everywhere," said Yvette Pughsley, who was walking nearby when she witnessed the crash. "The cars were rocking and I thought 'Oh my God, it's going to turn over.' If it was going any faster they would have turned over."

Kruesi said regardless of speed, the burden is on train drivers to keep a safe distance. "It shouldn't have happened; we're trying to find out why it happened," he said.

Both trains' operators and the worker directing traffic from the control center were tested for drug and alcohol use, standard procedure after crashes, he said. None will operate trains or direct traffic until the CTA determines what went wrong, he said.

By late afternoon, a spokeswoman said the CTA was not likely to provide any further information about the crash or suspected causes on Friday or any time soon. "This is one of those long-term investigations," Maria Toscano said.

The Chicago Fire Department said at least 141 people were taken to area hospitals. The most serious injuries appeared to be broken bones, Chief Dennis Gault said.

"There were no serious injuries; there was a lot of whiplash and stuff like that," Chicago Fire Commissioner James Joyce said. "These people got bumped around, and they were plenty scared."

After the accident, passengers could be seen standing in open doors of the trains while rescuers with ladders helped them down to the street, about 20 feet below. By late morning, the trains involved in the crash were moved to a nearby station so more passengers could be removed and examined.

Other trains were stalled on the lines and left powerless for more than an hour after the accident, leaving hundreds of commuters to swelter in packed cars with no air conditioning. The line was reopened by late morning.

The crash evoked memories of Feb. 4, 1977, when a train rounding a curve rear-ended a stopped train at a North Side station. Four train cars toppled 20 feet to the street below. Eleven people died and 183 were hurt, the worst crash in CTA history.

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