Thanksgiving Eve – November 23, 2005

On the drive home from work tonight I was thinking about another Thanksgiving Eve several years back.  Back then I was working in downtown Chicago and took the Metra commuter rail every day to work.   The trip home started like any other holiday: a crowded train station, pushing and shoving, trains not running on time.  Once we finally left the station the trip was as uneventful as always.

Approaching Elmwood Park we were going about 70mph but the horn on the train started blaring like crazy.  Just a bit later the car I was riding in lurched and there was the sound of an impact.  Underneath the train I could hear bits and pieces of something bouncing off the bottom of the train.  The train then started to brake…hard…and the car started to shudder almost uncontrollably.  Obviously going 70mph an object the size of a commuter train takes awhile to stop and I think we ended up coming to a stop about a mile down the track.

Turns out we had plowed through 6 cars stuck on the track.  12 other cars were involved in the accident.  The crew let us out of the train to get fresh air and stretch our legs.  I went to the back of the train to take a look and there were car pieces still stuck under the train.  About 2 hours later another train, coming from the opposite direction, pulled up alongside our train and passengers were moved to the other train.  We then went on our way.

It truly was a horrific scene, when I finally got a chance to see the news reports.  Being a mile down the track I didn’t really see all that much aside from flashing lights from the emergency vehicles on the scene.  I had this bad feeling in the pit of my stomach though hoping that nobody was dead but thinking that was impossible given how fast we were going and how many cars were involved.  Miraculously nobody died in that accident.  There were injuries for sure but no deaths.   It made the holiday the next day that much better.

Story links:

NTSB Crash Report
CBS 2 Chicago Report with video

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