CHICAGO — On this date — Oct. 30 — 50 years ago, 45 people died and more than 300 were injured in what would become the deadliest train crash in Illinois history.
A 50-year anniversary memorial was constructed at First Unitarian Church in Hyde Park Sunday in honor of those who died.
Lisa Klare and her friends, Dean and Pat, were aboard a northbound Illinois central commuter train — no. 416 — when another train struck them from behind near what was the old Michael Reese Hospital on the city’s South Side.
“The next thing I remember was waking up,” said Klare, who was a high school senior in 1972. “Pat and I were crunched together looking at each other like, ‘what happened?'”
Klare still remembers the crash vividly, recalling what it was like.
“Our train telescoped. We had a very old school train, kind of like a cast iron train,” Klare said. “That smashed through what they were calling a tin can double decker train, so we were basically in these two trains.”
Dean died that day, while Klare and Pat were injured and trapped for hours awaiting rescue like hundreds of others who were caught in the crash.
Despite the trauma suffered from the incident, Klare and survivors like her hope the memorial helps make sure those who died that day are never forgotten.
“We can’t forget the people who died,” said Louise LaWarre, who was a new mother to a five-month-old when she was among those injured in the crash. “They’re alive as long as we remember them.”
Moving forward, organizers of the memorial are asking the City of Chicago to create a permanent monument in honor of those lost on this day in 1972.