Two adults and a 5-year-old girl were killed after their car was struck by a train in Chicago, and the crash also injured several people riding on the train.
An inbound Rock Island Metra train was “expressing” past West 107th Street in the Beverly neighborhood around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday when it struck an SUV and dragged it about four blocks, Metra spokesperson Michael Gillis said at a press conference.
Three people riding in the car were killed, while the train’s engineer suffered a minor leg injury, and its conductor a back injury. Three passengers also suffered minor injuries, and two were hospitalized while one declined treatment, Gillis said.
“It’s heart-rendering. It’s gut-wrenching,” he said. “It’s the worst thing I’ve seen. I’ve been doing this job for 12 years, this is the worst scene I’ve seen.”
Gillis estimated the train was going about 79 mph when the accident occurred, and was carrying 41 passengers, most of whom were taken by bus to a different train to continue their trip.
The Cook County Medical Examiner identified one of the three victims as 5-year-old Essence Ransberry, WLS reported.
Passenger Greg Smalls told the outlet that he heard a “thump” around 107th Street, and though the motorman made multiple attempts to stop the train, was unable to.
“He tried his best. He was blowing his horn, blowing his horn, blowing his horn,” Smalls said. “Unfortunately, [he] didn’t have enough time.”
Jamie Smith, who was also riding on the train, told WGN that there was a loud screeching noise, and the lights went off, while passenger Nisa Clarke said the train “jumped forward,” and there was a lot of smoke.
“The car went around and tried to beat the train,” witness Deja Gardner told WLS. “The car went up in flames.”
Passenger Matt Townsend told the Chicago Sun-Times that the experience was “a horrible adventure.”
“Everybody was anxious, tensions were running high, and we were wanting to get off faster than the line was allowing us to,” he said. “The car was unrecognizable as a car, it was just a clumped up piece of metal… and I started seeing flames come from the car, and that was scary. But most importantly, I knew that people had died.”
According to WMAQ, the train left Joliet at 4:25 p.m., and was set to arrive at Chicago’s LaSalle Street station at 5:25 p.m.