911 calls from train derailment, bridge collapse

July 12, 2012 (GLENVIEW, Ill.)

Authorities initially believed no one was hurt in the north suburban accident. It was not until the next day that cleanup crews spotted the bumper of a car underneath the pile of rubble, and they then explored further until they found the bodies of the two victims: Burton and Zorine Lindner. That may explain why witnesses calling 911 were relatively calm, believing everyone was OK.

One of the first things witnesses noticed from a distance was the thick black smoke rising ominously from the scene. Several of the first callers to 911 were unsure what was causing the smoke, but they knew it was something bad. As later callers were able to give more detail, it became clear that emergency crews were dealing with a disaster on the train tracks.

911 caller: A train derailed and there's a tremendous amount of black smoke, it's blocking Shermer completely.
Operator: OK.
911 caller: It fell off the viaduct. It looks like the bridge collapsed, or a train fell off the rail case.
Operator: the bridge may have collapsed?
911 caller(s): Yeah, it looks like it. Looks like it melted or something. It looks like it may have buckled due to the heat or something.

Underneath the rubble from the tracks was a car with Burton and Zorine Lindner inside. They were killed in the wreckage, and their family has filed suit. 28 cars from the train, which was hauling coal, derailed and took a bridge down with them. The train was bound for Milwaukee from Wyoming when it apparently hit a kink in the tracks in the middle of the afternoon last week. The bridge collapsed on the Lexus carrying the Lindners.

911 caller: A train derailed. All the cars are sticking up - there's huge piles of smoke. I don't see any fire, but there's cars hanging down into the road.

In their lawsuit, the Lindner family is accusing Union Pacific railroad of negligence, alleging in a lawsuit that the company failed to properly maintain and inspect its track. Their attorney, Michael LaMonica, said regardless of the heat, trains are not supposed to fly off the tracks and land on people.

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