Car lands on Blue Line tracks after crash

February 26, 2011 5:06:12 AM PST
A car ended up on a CTA Blue Line track Friday morning near Austin after vaulting over a guardrail and onto the tracks below near Chicago's western border with suburban Oak Park.

The accident took place just after 3 a.m. and was cleared less than three hours later, allowing El trains to operate normally again. The Jeep Cherokee came to a rest on the northbound track of the Forest Park Branch of the Blue Line.

Police say the female driver was likely speeding while driving down Taylor Street, then hit a concrete guardrail head on. The car flipped over that guardrail and fell onto the train tracks at the Austin Blue Line stop. The Blue Line tracks run parallel to the Eisenhower Expressway.

The driver survived and is expected to be OK. She crawled out of the vehicle and was conscious when police arrived on the scene, Oak Park Police Commander Clemet Harbour said. She was sitting on the tracks, which had shorted out. The woman was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood with non-life-threatening injuries, including injuries to her teeth.

There was no impact with any train, but the CTA shut down partial service in the area to clear the accident. No citations had been issued as of 11 a.m. Friday.

"It looked like it flew quite a distance because there's two sets of train tracks, and that's where the car fell," said witness Craig Kerr.

"There was no impact with any of our trains," said CTA president Richard Rodriguez. "The vehicle landed on the tracks. There [were] customers on the eastbound trains coming in. We unloaded them, moved them over to another train, not much of a delay at all, somewhat of an inconvenience that had to stand for a bit but no trapped trains for any significant period of time."

Oak Park police are investigating the cause of the crash to see if alcohol or if Friday morning's nasty weather was to blame. The conditions Friday were responsible for a crash in River Grove. Overnight, snow blanketed the area as far south as Kankakee, making the roads slick and hard to travel.

In June of 2009, there was a similar accident in the same area when a Dodge Charger flipped and flew off the Eisenhower and onto the Blue Line tracks near the Austin stop as well. That accident took place at 4 a.m. More than 30 people were on a train at the time. No one was seriously injured, and the driver was cited for improper lane usage.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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