A Story That is Interesting, Horrible, and Gruesome

TheRealMeDoc

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I've done absolutely nothing on this rainy Saturday, so I decided to go through my old computer documents and came across a report I did on the Metra railway in Chicago as a school project. In this report, I talked about some of the most prominent accidents of the railroad's history, and one of them is particularly intriguing/disgusting; it happened almost 20 years ago in Downer's Grove, Illinois. A railfan and his grandson had set up near the DG station's pedestrian crossing to catch a Burlington Northern E9 in service because that particular loco would be retiring soon from the railroad. At their vantage point, you could see one train that was unloading passengers on the track furthest to the left (there are three tracks that run through the station) but you can't see anything past the passenger train on the tracks. They start filming around 5:48 p.m. At this time, the crossing gates are down; bells ringing, lights flashing, the whole nine yards, but many people go around the gates thinking the parked train letting off its passengers is triggering the gates. At 5:50 p.m., a woman and her attorney are on their way to finalize the woman's divorce with her husband. By this time, no one is going around the gates because one woman claimed she saw a train coming on the second track. The woman and her attorney keep on walking, right into the path of a Burlington Northern E9 "Racetrack" express train doing 60 miles per hour. Luckily the attorney leaped back in time not to get hit by the train, but the woman was hit by the train. Of course the impact is edited out because it was national television, but you get the basic idea. I thought this accident would have by now gotten lots of attention on the internet, so I looked far and wide about information on this accident. Here's the additional information I have collected:

-The woman's name was Mary Wojtyla. She was the mother of three children.
-When she got hit by the train, her body flies into the tripod of the railfan's camera. The body hits the cameraman in the leg (which also breaks his leg) then procedes to fly into a nearby electrical box. Parts of her body were torn off and hit his grandson. This was all captured on video (because the camera was still running). Some people say if you watch closely, you can see brain matter fly out from her body. The unedited video, dubbed "Traingirl", can be found on shock websites and YouTube.
-At first, the crew of the train had not realized they hit her until about 10 minutes later when the police called the engineer saying they got a 911 call describing his train hitting a pedestrian.
-The line was closed for 2 hours to all commuter traffic after the accident.
-At one point, where the police ordered the engineer to back his train up in order to reenact the accident, he got so distraught seeing the uncovered body on the tracks he was relieved of his duties.
-A wrongful death lawsuit was brought by Wojtyla's family years later, but was dismissed.

I am particularly intrigued by this accident because of
1. Why the engineer was doing 60 mph in a residential area near a pedestrian crossing.
2. Why the crossing's vantage point was built such that the vantage point could not capture other trains coming down the track if another was parked on the tracks.
3. Why no safety measures have been made to the crossing today in order to make it safer.

In addition, here's what the station looks like today. It hasn't changed much since the accident.
http://www.railroadforums.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=52350&d=1140473733

Now that I've bored you guys with this story, I shall get back to doing nothing on this dreary, rainy Saturday.
 

TheRealMeDoc

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wow.. how terrible. :(
I know. I feel horrible, yet at the same time not even that bad for Ms. Wojtyla. When the gates are down, you shouldn't be crossing the tracks. It's the train you don't see that kills you.
 

denimcatfish

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I remember that video. I never saw the part where she got hit because it was on a tv show I think. But they paused right before she got hit. Sent chills through me thinking about it.
 

TheRealMeDoc

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I remember that video. I never saw the part where she got hit because it was on a tv show I think. But they paused right before she got hit. Sent chills through me thinking about it.
I actually haven't seen the unedited video either, I've just heard things through the grape vine (mainly other RR forums).
 

PapaSquash

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I remember that. I had forgotten it. It was disturbing - here one second and gone the next.
 

DRF

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Goddamned lawyers have horse shoes up their ass.
 

Alligatorbling

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they showed us the video in highschool, the railroad came and talked to us about the dangers of going though down gates ect... they then told us the story about that woman and said "if you are squemish please put your head down or leave the room" ... then they rolled the tape, pretty brutal, she looked like a rag doll. very sad.
 

captcoolaid

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Okay thats horrible but you mean to tell me she did not hear the train come on folks common sence right. Or am i just being a dick.
 

Benjammin

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Okay thats horrible but you mean to tell me she did not hear the train come on folks common sence right. Or am i just being a dick.
yeah, even slow trains are loud, and 60 mph is haulin
 

Ride on a Pony

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Just watched it, I can see that the guy was blocking her view a little bit, but I can't work out for the life of me how she didn't see or hear it.

The warning bells are there for a reason.
 

TheRealMeDoc

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I actually feel more sorry for the railfan and his grandson than the woman; an experience like that will haunt you for the rest of your life.
 


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