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5 seriously injured in Amtrak crash
Published: November 30, 2007
Source: By Dan P. Blake and Ryan Haggerty | Tribune staff reporters

Five Amtrak employees were reported seriously injured and about 100 passengers were slightly hurt when a passenger train was involved in an accident with a freight train this morning on Chicago's South Side.

Footage from the accident site showed the front of an Amtrak propped up above a freight train in a railyard near the 5200 block of South Shields Avenue. Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said five Amtrak staff members were reported in serious to critical condition, including two that had to be cut from the front engine car, which was the only car that derailed around 11:30 a.m.

At least 100 passengers, called "the walking wounded", were slightly injured, he said.

The train -- Amtrak's No. 371 train, also known as the Pere Marquette -- was scheduled to leave Grand Rapids, Mich., at 7:35 a.m. and arrive at Union Station at 10:30 a.m., according to railroad sources.

Chicago Fire Department spokesman Kevin MacGregor said a heightened emergency response was called for the crash.

"We're trying to get companies in there to go to work," MacGregor said. He said at least 19 ambulances were on the scene.

Passengers were being brought out on stretchers to a triage area near 52nd Street and Princeton Avenue, where some were lying on tarps and others were sitting sown. One woman was wearing a neck brace.

A passenger on the train, 60-year-old Coert Vanderhill of Holland, Mich., said he was on his way to Chicago to help his children close on a condominium sale. The train was traveling about 15 to 20 m.p.h. when the crash happened, he said. Before the collision, he said, there was no braking or any other warning that something was wrong.

Vanderhill, who had a small cut to his nose, said most passengers were thrown forward into the seats. His wife was thrown to the floor.

After the crash, he said, many of the passengers had bloody faces and some were missing teeth

At least two area hospitals were poised to receive victims.

Stroger Hospital of Cook County has been told to expect 10 injured in the collision, said hospital spokesman Don Rashid. An undetermined number of passengers was expected at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, spokeswoman Chris Latham said.

Langford said in an interview with WGN-TV that firefighters are attempting to gain access to a conductor who may be in the train's front car. Langford said any injuries would be in the front car and the first passenger car.

Amtrak had no immediate comment.

People seeking information about family members or friends who were on the Amtrak train can call Amtrak at 800-523-9101.

Tribune staff reporter James Janega contributed to this report.


Firefighters work at the scene of a collision involving an Amtrak train and a freight train Thursday.
Friday's train accident left five with serious injuries. About 100 others were slightly hurt.
Firefighters work the scene after an Amtrak train collided with a freight train Friday.

 
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