Woman struck, killed by Metra train

March 7, 2012 8:55:02 PM PST
Wednesday morning's commute was disrupted for some Metra riders when a train struck and killed a woman on Chicago's Far South Side.

The medical examiner identifies the victim as Gardenia Boyer, 23.

Boyer was walking east on 95th. The train was coming south, and she was struck on the near track based on her vantage point.

There is no pedestrian crossing arm at that sidewalk, but there is an arm, warning lights, and bells for drivers. Metra says that equipment was working properly.

The incident happened around 7 a.m. Wednesday at the Long Wood Manor Station at 95th and Vincennes.

The outbound Rock Island train was empty, carrying only crew, and was on its way to pick up passengers in Blue Island. Trains began moving through the station, but at reduced speed, and that caused delays up to an hour on the Rock Island Line.

"We have not heard of any complaints at this particular location about the signals not working or people complaining that there were no pedestrian arms that would come across that would prevent people from running across," said 21st Ward Ald. Howard Brookins.

Witnesses say it was very windy, and that Boyer may have been wearing ear phones. Witnesses say it appears she simply did not see or the train coming.

"All I saw was, I don't know where she was heading to, but all I knew is she was supposed to stop where she was supposed to when the train was coming," said Fred Brisco.

"I came up, and I didn't notice the body until I was standing over there, and they said, 'go get the boot,' and I saw the bag I was like, 'oh, my God, it's a child,'" said Joanne Echols. "I was overwhelmed. That's all I can say. That's all I can say."

A friend says Boyer was the mother of two daughters, ages 3 and 5.

Earlier this year, a University of Maryland study found injuries to headphone-wearing pedestrians have more than tripled in the past six years.

In 2008, State Representative Ken Dunkin unsuccessfully proposed a bill in the general assembly that would fine pedestrians distracted by mobile devices.

"When you're walking in the middle of a busy intersection or any intersection, you have to be conscious, or really put the device away and really focus and pay attention to what your next steps are," Dunkin said.

Metra trains are back on their normal schedule and they are not expecting any further impact for the afternoon rush. In the meantime, Metra continues to investigate exactly why Boyer ended up on the tracks.