CLARENDON HILLS, Ill. — The woman killed in a Metra crash in Clarendon Hills was identified by family who held a news conference Thursday.
The woman was identified as 72-year-old Christina Lopez. She had three daughters, five grandchildren and was also one of 10 siblings.
Jeff Kolnowski, her son-in-law, said they were very lucky to spend Mother’s Day with her and said she will be missed very much. Lopez, who the family affectionately called “Chris,” was a fantastic cook who Kolnowski said made the best chicken tacos.
Lopez, who lived in Downers Grove, was killed Wednesday when a Metra train slammed into a truck that was stuck on the tracks. The accident involving Metra BNSF train No. 1242 happened around 8 a.m. that morning. According to Metra, the truck got stuck on the tracks and as the train was approaching, the driver jumped out of the truck.
Lopez, who was a passenger on the train, was killed. Michael Gillis, director of communications at Metra said four other people were injured — a Metra engineer, conductor and two other passengers. Their injuries were minor. The truck driver was not injured.
Lopez’s family said she took the Metra multiple times a week to visit her sister in LaGrange.
“She was the glue to the family,” Kolnowski said. “She got along and spoke with everybody.”
They said the crash was preventable and said this is a very difficult time for them.
“All of us at Metra and BNSF Railway are devastated by this death and we will be working with the NTSB to find out what happened,” Gillis said.
WGN’s Skycam9 was over the scene of the crash that showed the truck was totaled. The Metra train also had heavy damage to the side of the train with multiple windows destroyed.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, the NTSB confirmed that Lopez was ejected through a window.
The NTSB said they are fairly confident that the train was not speeding at the time. The speed limit for Metra trains is 70 miles per hour. They think Lopez may have been sitting on the right side of the train, where the truck hit the back end of the train.
NTSB said a white pick-up truck ahead of the box truck did not block the box truck and the agency is hoping to speak with the three individuals inside the box truck as to why it did not move.
“The truck could have moved, it didn’t,” the agency said.
The back-end of the box truck caused most of the damage, the NTSB said.
When asked if ongoing construction on the trucks played a factor, the NTSB said “that is a key question” and they are working to determine it.
Witness Denise Andrews was in traffic a few cars back and captured video showing the truck in flames.
“I looked over at the tracks and there looked like a big moving truck, and it was stopped,” she said. “‘Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding,’ the barrier comes down and it hits the top of the truck. At that point I knew it was on the tracks and I was like ‘oh my God.’”
The regular Metra schedule will go back into effect on Friday, including stops at Clarendon Hills. However, the Prospect Avenue crossing will remain closed until further notice. Visit Metra for the full schedule.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators were in the area Thursday taking a look at the tracks and the truck.
Anyone who has video or who may have witnessed the crash is asked to call the NTSB at 202-320-3387. You can also visit witness.ntsb.gov. The family is encouraged anyone who may know something to speak out.