University Park IL train accident: Chicago woman killed in train-SUV collision

Legal News for Illinois Train Accident Attorneys. Investigator: “This was human error.” Railroad crossing signals were inactive at the time of a fatal train-SUV crash.

News for Illinois train accident lawyers- A motor vehicle collision involving an Amtrak train and SUV resulted in one fatality.

University Park, IL—Federal and state investigators reported on Monday, April 19, 2010, Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) workers unintentionally deactivated railroad crossing barrier gates, flashing lights and bells. The lack of warning signals might have been a major factor that led to a deadly collision between a four-car Amtrak train and a sport utility vehicle on Friday, April 16, 2010. The fatal train vs. SUV collision occurred at the Stuenkel Road crossing, located in close proximity to Governors Highway in University Park, Illinois, according to information provided by the Chicago Tribune.

Reports stated CN crews had been working on the railway’s track switching devices within a mile of the Stuenkel Road crossing on the day of the accident. While the railroad crossing’s warning signals were working properly before the approach of a locomotive, they allegedly remained active for a prolonged period of time, subsequently obstructing traffic. They CN employees then attempted to fix the issue but accidentally disabled the crossing’s gates, lights and bells. As a result, there was no system in place that would warn motorists traveling through the crossing of an approaching train.

A 26-year-old Chicago woman, identified as Katie Lunn, apparently failed to notice the oncoming Amtrak train approaching the Stuenkel Road crossing at speeds of approximately 79 mph. The Amtrak train consequently smashed into the side of her SUV. Lunn, a School of Performing Arts dance teacher, seemingly succumbed to the severe injuries she sustained in the train crash at the scene.

According to Patrick Waldron, a spokesperson for CN, “CN’s preliminary investigation into Friday night’s tragic accident has determined the grade crossing protection system at Stuenkel Road did not function as it should have. CN, in cooperation with Amtrak, the FRA and the NTSB, is performing a complete and thorough investigation to determine the exact circumstances of this incident. That investigation includes an exhaustive review and examination of infrastructure elements as well as interviews of eyewitnesses and railroad employees. CN will not comment further on the particulars of the investigation, or of any of the factors that may be associated with the incident, until that investigation is further advanced.”

Legal News Reporter: Sandra Quinlan- Legal News for Illinois Train Accident Lawyers.