Railroad News

Damaging Union Pacific Derailment Turns to Tragedy as Two Bodies Found Beneath Rubble

(Glenview, Illinois – July 5, 2012)

What was originally thought to be just a massive property damage/public inconvenience has turned into a horrible human tragedy nearly a day after the Union Pacific Railroad coal train derailed and collapsed the overpass. Thursday morning, July 5, an automobile containing two bodies was discovered and finally removed from the tons of coal, railroad cars and bridge debris at about 1:00 P.M.

Both railroad and public safety officials were tragically premature in their declaration Wednesday that no one had been injured in the derailment of 31 cars of a 138-car coal train headed from Wyoming to Wisconsin, as crews digging through the site discovered an automobile bumper about 10:00 A.M. Thursday morning. Digging deeper, the crews discovered a new, black Lexus with two adult bodies, the driver a male and the gender of the other has yet to be released. The car was placed upon a flatbed truck and towed to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office for investigation and identification.

The problem with the bridge necessitating the closure of Shermer Avenue was neither the first, nor the second, but the third time. The defects have lead to closing and rebuilding in 1974, 2009 and now on July 4, 2012. Numerous neighbors and users of the underpass expressed doubt in the stability of the structure.

Union Pacific officials had reduced speed on the rail line, which is not a Metra passenger route, to 40 mph maximum due to the extreme heat Wednesday, and the locomotive’s event recorder indicated the train’s speed was 37 mph at the time of the derailment. Speculation was offered by non-railroad personnel that the train had first derailed near the 86’ bridge span that crosses Shermer Avenue at the border of Glenview and Northbrook, IL, and then exceeded the bridge’s eight limit through the stacking and pileup of the coal hopper cars, each weighing between 75 and 85 tons when loaded.

At a Thursday afternoon press conference, Glenview Fire Chief Wayne Globerger declared a “definite possibility that there’s more cars” trapped beneath the ruins of the overpass, even though Glenview Deputy Police Chief Phil Perlini said his department was unaware of any missing person reports.