NTSB interviews CTA operator, goes through derailed train's wreckage at O'Hare stop

The first lawsuit in the derailment has been filed, and Tuesday night, Eyewitness News heard from the passenger behind it.
March 25, 2014 8:18:47 PM PDT
The CTA's Blue Line O'Hare station remains closed the day after a train derailed as NTSB interviewed the operator and gathered information from the wreckage.

CTA Blue Line train derailment photos

NTSB officials said the train was going 25 or 26 miles per hour when it pulled into the O'Hare station early Monday morning. That is a normal speed for entrance, NTSB lead investigator Ted Turpin said, of the preliminary review. What isn't clear is how fast the train was going when it derailed at the end of the platform- and why an automatic emergency braking system didn't stop it.

Turpin said that system went into action on the tracks as the train traveled toward the platform, but failed to stop it.

"It activated, whether it did it in time or not, that's an analysis we'll have to figure out," Turpin said.

The NTSB is removing recording devices from the wreckage. There were 41 cameras around the station, and another camera with head-on footage from the front of the car.

NTSB investigators said they spoke with the train's operator, who was one of 32 people treated and released from a hospital on Monday, for about two hours on Tuesday. NTSB officials would not comment on the interview.

CTA union officials said Monday she may have "dozed off" at the controls as the train pulled into one of the world's busiest airports.

Eyewitness News obtained radio calls that show a calm response to a calamity: "We do have a train that derailed, went onto the platform. We have multiple injuries."

Lawsuits filed in derailment

The first lawsuit in the derailment has been filed, and Tuesday night, Eyewitness News heard from the passenger behind it.

"I heard a loud noise, I felt my body get thrown to the seat in front of me to the seat behind me. I hit my back, it felt like I was getting punched then the lights went out," said Niakesha Thomas, CTA passenger. "I'm scared. I have to go back to work in a week or two and get on that train and I have to trust somebody all over again. It's scary to me," said Thomas.

"We're also looking at the structure itself, we think the end of the line is a little too close to the escalators," said Bridget Dignan, attorney, Latherow Law Office.

Free shuttles from Rosemont to O'Hare

As the investigation continues, the CTA will operate free shuttle buses between the O'Hare and Rosemont Blue Line stations. They pick up and drop off passengers at the Rosemont station and the O'Hare bus shuttle, which is located on the ground level between Terminals 1 and 2. The shuttles run every 5-6 minutes most of the day with increased frequency during rush hours.

Blue Line train service will run on a normal schedule between Rosemont and Forest Park, stopping at all stations, the CTA said.

"I left a little early. But other than that, nothing was really out of the ordinary," Lizzie Glantz said.

Multiple CTA personnel and directional signs should help guide passengers to the shuttle locations. The shuttle bus service will continue "until further notice," the transit agency said.


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