Driver in Metra collision had history of violations

May 13, 2011 (CHICAGO)

The Mount Prospect rail crossing where the crash took place has been the site of more than two dozen accidents over the years.

The truck driver, who police say went around downed gates Friday morning, lost his license in 2001 for driving under the influence of alcohol. He also had dozens of moving violations and a similar accident that injured an Elgin woman.

Perhaps more startling are the number of accidents discovered by the I-Team at the crossing where Friday's collision occurred. It is known as a "diagonal crossing." With three sets of tracks cutting across Mt. Prospect Road at an angle, there are difficult sightlines for drivers.

And, with roadways on each side of the diagonal tracks, there can be even more confusion.

State records obtained by the I-Team reveal crossing trouble: Friday morning's was the 25th serious accident at that suburban location since 1955. Friday morning's fatality was the fifth death there since 1961. Before Friday, at least 12 motorists were injured, nearly all of them in turning vehicles.

Police Friday blamed truck driver Kazimierz Karasek for the accident, saying that he ignored a "no left turn" sign, and disregarded downed gates and warning lights.

Fifty-nine-year old Karasek, of Prospect Heights, was killed when the Metra train hit his truck. Karasek had a long history of violations behind the wheel, including in 2000, when court records show he was convicted of DUI in DuPage County; his license was suspended for three months.

Karasek was ticketed in 2007 for driving the wrong way on a one way street and in 2008 for disobeying a traffic light.

The I-Team has also learned that Karasek had a previous truck accident. In December, 1993, in Elgin, Karasek made a left turn on a yellow light; his Mack truck hit an oncoming car, injuring the woman who was driving. Karasek was ticketed for failure to yield. The victim's lawsuit was settled out of court.

The I-Team spoke with the victim of that previous accident on Friday afternoon. She said that police at the time told her not many people survive a high-speed collision with a Mack truck.

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