Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Expert: A miracle that no one died in train crash

26 March 2014, 09:08

Chicago - The crash of a Chicago commuter train that derailed and ploughed up an escalator at one of the world's busiest airports would have been far worse, and likely fatal, had it not happened how and when it did, a transportation expert says.

Federal investigators aren't saying what may have caused the Chicago Transit Authority train to jump its tracks around 03:00 on Monday, screech across a concrete platform and crash up a heavily used escalator that takes travellers and workers into O'Hare International Airport. Investigators were expected back on the scene on Tuesday.

"It is a miracle that nobody died," said Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation expert at DePaul University.

Had the crash occurred during the day, when the trains are often full and the escalator packed with luggage-carrying travellers, far more people likely would have been injured, some even killed, he said.

The crash injured more than 30 people, all of whom were on the train, though none suffered life-threatening injuries.

"A train running up a [crowded] escalator could have been a worst case scenario," Schwieterman said. "When pedestrians are hit by a train, it is usually fatal."

He also noted that jumping the track likely dissipated the train's forward movement, thus lessening the accident's severity. A more abrupt stop would have more violently slammed people into the train's seats and walls, he said.

The union representing the train operator said fatigue may have played a role in the crash in a tunnel at O'Hare, the second busiest US airport, suggesting the woman may have dozed off.

The operator, who was not immediately identified, had started work at around 20:00 on Sunday but had recently put in a lot of overtime, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308 President Robert Kelly said on Monday afternoon.

Kelly said she underwent standard drug and alcohol tests after the derailment, and he said she assured him they were not an issue.

Asked whether she may have nodded off, Kelly responded, "The indication is there. Yes."

Investigators had not yet drawn any conclusions about the accident, National Transportation Safety Board official Tim DePaepe said on Monday. He said investigators planned to speak to the operator, and scrutinize the train's brakes, track signals and other potential factors.

In Monday's accident, a CTA supervisor and another worker near the top of the escalator said they saw the train enter at a normal rate of speed, about 24km/h, according to Kelly.

"The next thing they heard the sound [of impact] and the yelling and the screaming," he said.

Most passengers walked away unaided, officials said. The injured were treated at area hospitals and released.

The train operator suffered a leg injury and has been released from the hospital. Kelly described her after the accident as distraught, but still able to help passengers.

"She immediately got out of the cab and started asking everybody and checking to make sure that everybody was OK," he said.

- AP

Tags us

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
George Vodongo
China to help Kenya fight high le...

China observed that if left unchecked, corruption could see the country degenerate into lawlessness. Read more...

Submitted by
S Mbinya
Signs that he is seeing someone e...

When a man wants to be with you, he will always create time to be with you. Read more...

Submitted by
George Vodongo
Spat between DP Ruto and Boniface...

A close associate of the DP, Hon Njogu Barua made an alarming comment on live TV Tuesday morning. Read more...

Submitted by
Ben Wangui
Matatu driver who drugged, robbed...

The driver of a Nissan matatu who over the weekend drugged and robbed a female passenger in Nairobi has been charged. Read more...

Submitted by
Gabriel Ngallah
Heavy police contingent deployed ...

More police officers were on Monday deployed at Likoni in Mombasa County in a security operation to nab members of the ‘Wakali Kwanza’ and ‘Mtalia’ criminal gangs who have been terrorizing locals in the area. Read more...

Submitted by
Ben Wangui
Man released on Presidential amne...

He was caught taking money from a church offering bag at Ol Jabet Independent Pentecostal Church in Laikipia West on October 23. Read more...