Second body found at train derailment site

July 5, 2012 5:58:20 PM PDT
A second victim has been discovered at the site of a train derailment at the Glenview-Northbrook border in the north suburbs.

Police, fire, Union Pacific railroad all thought this was a cleanup effort. That was until a backhoe operator dug up a piece of a car.

Inside the car, not one, but two people lost their lives. Their deaths, even their presence underneath this mountain of debris was not detected until Thursday, one day after the derailment.

"Two bodies were found in the car trapped under the debris. One of the victims, the driver, was male. We can only confirm at this time that there was a second fatality," said Wayne Gooberger of the Glenview Fire Department.

Thursday morning, cleanup crews hired by Union Pacific railroad found a car's bumper. Workers grabbed shovels and dug enough away to reveal an entire car. Police say the driver and his passenger were heading south on Shermer Road Wednesday when train cars fell from the overpass on top of them.

Within seconds, the bridge collapsed and the coal the train was carrying buried everything.

"We didn't have access to the pile. We didn't know what was underneath. Obviously, when they worked, they discovered a vehicle and we were called back to the scene," said Glenview Deputy Police Chief Phil Perlini.

"There was 27 rail cars full of coal," said Gooberger. "There was no way to get in there until Union Pacific crews started pulling away the debris."

Union Pacific investigators are looking to whether extreme heat may have impacted the rails or equipment. The derailment Wednesday was the third derailment at the overpass. The first happened in the mid 1970s.

"In 1974 the bridge fell the first time," said Howard Boiko, who witnessed the first collapse. "We said, 'Oh man, what are we going to do to get to the other side of the bridge that came down?' Obviously, we also wanted to find out if anyone was injured - nobody was."

Nearly 40 years later, Boiko cautions against a rush to rebuild the overpass that until Wednesday, he used every weekday.

"It could be a vibration, it could be structure, it could be any number of things that could be doing that," said Boiko.

Crews continued a slower, more deliberate cleanup effort Thursday evening after a mistake Wednesday in which police said no one was injured.

The fire chief told ABC7 a short time ago that he will not say with certainty that no one else is trapped underneath this debris until all of it is cleaned up and he can see the pavement.

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