The accident happened Thursday morning at a rail crossing near the intersection of Main and Addison streets in west suburban Bensenville.
The warning gates were down and the bells were ringing, but the victim's husband says his wife tried to cross the tracks anyway to get to her job at a daycare center.
Relatives of Gail Stavenger Przybyla say she spent a lifetime caring for children.
"She wanted to get to those kids," said husband Todd Przybyla. "I just miss her so much. I loved her with all my heart."
The 56-year-old wife and mother of five was killed at the Metra crossing next to Bensenville station, mere yards from the daycare center where she worked.
Todd Przybyla had driven his wife to her job and says he pleaded for her to stay in the car as lowered gates and ringing bells signaled a train's arrival.
"She took off before I could grab her. She tried to run across the tracks," said Todd Przybyla. "Then I didn't see her. And then I prayed that she got into the building." Gail Przybyla may have thought the train was slowing for a stop at the station. But it was an inbound express train traveling at high speed.
Przybyla had worked for the daycare center's owner for about five years, and her husband says Thursday morning, like many mornings, she came to work early on her own to help a co-worker who was alone with the kids.
"We don't have a lot of money. We never did. But we're satisfied. God's given us what we need. And she taught me that," said Todd Pryzbyla.
Before working at the daycare center Pryzbyla was a teacher for Chicago Public Schools as well a counselor in Michigan for special needs kids.
"I know she would have liked me to help people so this won't happen to other people," said Todd Pryzbyla. "These trains, the're going faster than we think, and it is the most dangerous thing you can do. Your life can be gone like that."
The Milwaukee West Line was running normally Thursday afternoon after earlier delays.