Hinsdale: Train track cleared 40 minutes before crash

February 11, 2010 2:52:11 PM PST
After a car got stuck in the snow Wednesday night, drivers are urged to be careful when crossing train tracks in winter conditions.

On Wednesday night, a car got stuck on the tracks in Hinsdale. Luckily the driver was able to escape before the vehicle was hit by a train.

Street grade level railroad crossings are common in some areas and motorists who live nearby need to cross the tracks countless times a day. After a car got stuck in the snow Wednesday night, village officials urge motorists to be even more carefully crossing the tracks when the pavement is slippery

Ten inches of snow fell in the area on Wednesday. Village of Hinsdale's director of public services says a plow went through the crossing at 5:30 p.m.-- about 40 minutes later a car on the tracks was hit by a passing train.

"I've not ever heard of anyone getting stuck on the tracks because of the weather condition," said George Franco, Hinsdale Public Services Director.

Jill Dssauer's car was on the crossing when a train approached. ABC7's John Garcia spoke with the motorist last night.

"I lost traction, and the car would not move forward, nor could I back it up in reverse. I tried rocking it and getting it unstuck. When I realized there was nothing I could do, i immediately decided to exit the car, and I called Hinsdale police dispatch," said Jill Dessauer, motorist stuck on tracks, Wednesday night.

"I think the driver made a good decision in the case she decided to abandon her car when she found she was having a difficult time instead of saving her vehicle she saved her life by getting out," said Deputy Chief Mark Wodka, Hinsdale Police Department.

Hinsdale Deputy Chief Mark Wodka urges caution as the road surface is made of different material at railroad crossings.

"The texture of any grade crossing and it's much slipperier especially when there's rain snow or slush it makes it more difficult for the tires to gain traction when they're on that type of surface," said Deputy Chief Mark Wodka.

Metra issued a statement: The responsibility for plowing snow from a grade grossing is that of the municipality or other jurisdiction that is responsible for plowing the road.

Hinsdale public services reports about an inch of snow had fallen after its plow went through when the accident occurred. The director enlists the public's help anytime there is snowfall at rush hour.

"Let us do our job. Let us go in front of you. We'll create a clear passage for you to get through," said Franco.

It is a traffic violation to be stopped on the tracks, but no citations have been issued. Hinsdale police do not believe there was intention to be on the track. It just looks like an accident.