'It's the worst thing I've seen': Rock Island Metra train collides with car, killing 3 on South Side

ByMichelle Gallardo and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, June 28, 2021
Rock Island Metra train collides with car, killing 3
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Three people are dead after the Rock Island Metra train collided with a car Sunday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Three people are dead after a Metra train collided with a car Sunday.

"It's the worst thing I've seen," said Michael Gillis, spokesperson for Metra. "I've been doing this job for 12 years and this is the worst thing I've seen."

It is just a horrific tragedy, especially coming on the heels of another very similar accident the day before.

RELATED: Girl, 5, among victims killed in East Chicago train, minivan crash, Lake Co. Coroner says

While investigators try to determine exactly what happened, witnesses said this is a loss that did not need to happen.

It was a heart-wrenching sight as emergency responders worked to try and recover the bodies of what is believed to have been a family.

Inbound Rock Island Metra train #122 struck a vehicle around 5:30 p.m. at the Metra crossing at West 107th Street on Chicago's South Side, according to Metra officials. The vehicle was then dragged down to West 103rd Street and South Vincennes Avenue, Gillis said.

Metra official provides update after Rock Island train collides with car, killing 3

Three people are dead after the Rock Island Metra train collided with a car Sunday.

"We got up to 107th Street and we heard a thump, and we saw smoke and you just put two and two together right there," said Metra passenger Greg Smalls.

Gillis estimated that the train was moving at roughly 79 mph.

"It was taking off from Blue Island so it was probably going that fast," Gillis said.

"The motorman tried to stop. He tried his best," Smalls added. "He was blowing his horn. Blowing his horn, blowing his horn. Unfortunately, didn't have enough time."

Inbound and outbound train movement has been halted while the incident is being investigated.

A man, a woman and a young girl inside the car were killed, according to Chicago Fire Department.

A Metra engineer had a minor injury to his leg and a conductor suffered a back injury, Gillis said. Three passengers also reported minor injuries, with two of the passengers transported to a local hospital.

There were 41 passengers on the train at the time of the incident. Most were transported by bus to the nearest CTA Red Line station, officials said.

There is no indication that the gates or bells were malfunctioning at the intersection, Gillis said, but officials will be reviewing video of the incident.

While unconfirmed, the story witnesses are telling is of a tragedy that did not have to happen.

Two adults and a minor inside the car were killed, according to Chicago Fire Department.

"The car went around and tried to beat the train, said Deja Gardner, who witnessed the crash. "The car went up in flames."

The lead car of the train was derailed and Metra officials say to expect extensive delays. A crane is currently at the scene to lift the car back onto the tracks.

Trains are also being routed through the Beverly branch and officials said they are hopeful the scene will be cleared up by Monday morning.

No other details have been released at this time. Metra police are investigating.

This is the second fatal train accident this weekend.

The Lake Co. Coroner has identified the victims of Saturday's East Chicago train crash as Pedro Trinidad, 36, Flor Carillo, 38 and Evelyn Trinidad, 5.

"I can't stress it enough that you have to obey the grade crossing protections. They are there for a reason," Gillis said. "The gates are down, the bells are ringing, the lights are sounding -- that means stop. That means don't try to cross the tracks."