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Officials Attempt to Shift Responsibility in Chicago Metra Tragedy

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

(Oak Forest, Illinois – July 22, 2011)

Always looking for an out, public and railroad officials early Friday “discovered” a note to the 50-year-old live-in son of the deceased driver in Thursday’s horrible train/car collision in the Chicago suburb of Oak Forest, telling him to “shape up or ship out.”

The note was left by 81-year-old Donna Grace, who, along with her passenger, 97-year-old Gail Crabtree, were both fatally injured Thursday when their car “exploded” as it was struck by a Chicago-bound Metra commuter passenger train at the 167th Street crossing as they returned home from a regular afternoon of playing dominoes at the Crestwood Senior Center in Oak Forest. In fact, they had dropped a third woman off at her home prior to the collision, and were headed home themselves. But, with no regard to the grieving family, sources labeled the note as a “suicide” note, and declared the investigation to be complete.

“There’s no way,” charged Gayle Larsen, granddaughter of Crabtree, who also lived with her grandmother in Tinley Park, IL. “It absolutely was not a suicide note,” she continued, pointing out the insensitivity of both the railroad and the media in declaring the tragedy a “suicide; case closed!” situation.

“I have answered two calls from Gail’s great-grandchildren who were in tears when they heard on the news that this was a supposed suicide,” said Larsen. “That’s not what it was.”

Late Friday, the offending officials backed off from their outlandish and uncalled for remarks, saying that, at first reading, the note appeared to be a “goodbye” note to her son, Steve Grace. But taking a 180 degree turn, investigators said the two had a rocky relationship, and they did not believe the note had anything to do with what they are now, once again, calling an “accident”. Steve Grace, meanwhile, described his mother as “a religious, caring woman who always wanted to help people.”


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