Chicago Train Derails at O'Hare, 30 Hurt

Shuttle buses in place between Rosemont station and the airport on the CTA Blue Line

By BJ Lutz
|  Monday, Mar 24, 2014  |  Updated 6:01 PM CDT
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Chicago Transit Autority spokesman Brian Steele spoke with reporters about the crash at the O'Hare station at 5 a.m.

Chicago Transit Autority spokesman Brian Steele spoke with reporters about the crash at the O'Hare station at 5 a.m.

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Thirty-two people were injured — none seriously — when an eight-car Chicago Transit Authority train continued through the end of the platform and struck the escalators leading to the terminals at O'Hare International Airport early Monday morning.

"The train actually climbed over the last stop, jumped up on the sidewalk  and then went up the stairs and escalators," Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Jose Santiago said of the crash, which happened just before 3 a.m. on the CTA's Blue Line.

He said it was immediately unknown if the train's motorman had some sort of medical problem prior to the crash but said that operator was walking, talking and answering questions afterward.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele, speaking to reporters at 5 a.m., said it was too early to say what caused the crash but said video footage was being reviewed and personnel were being interviewed. He said there were no immediate indications that equipment issues played a role in the crash.

The O'Hare station has three "pockets" for trains, and each has a bumping post at the end -- a large piece of metal with a shock absorber mechanism behind it, Steele explained.

"It appears as though the train would have been going faster than a train normally berthing at this station would be," he said. "Normally a train pulls in at just a couple miles and hour and pulls into the station. Obviously this train did not stop so speed could be a factor here."

Of those injured, 12 were listed in fair condition at Resurrection Medical Center. All of the patients were adults and were being treated for bumps and bruises. Another seven people were taken to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital with reported neck and back pain. A supervisor at Swedish Covenant Hospital said the facility received five people from the crash.

"I thought it was just a hard stop at the train didn't even slow down when it was coming in," said a Transportation Security Administration employee who wished to not be identified. "It was chaos. ... People were freaking out. Trying to figure out what happened. Trying to make sure everyone was okay."

Blue Line service north to O'Hare was stopped at the Rosemont station. Shuttle buses were brought in to continue the service to the airport. Service was also disrupted between Logan Square and Western because of planned track work. As a result, trains were operating only in two sections early Monday morning: Rosemont and Logan Square and Western and Forest Park.

Christopher Bushell, the transit agency's chief infrastructure officer, said the O'Hare airport station would remain closed for least "12 to 24 hours."

An official with The National Transportation Safety Board, which took over the investigation, later said commuter access to the station would be prohibited until at least Tuesday afternoon.

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