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MOUNT PROSPECT, IL – A semi truck collided with a Metra passenger train, shearing the cab from the truck, derailing the train and killing the truck driver on May 13, 2011.

Aerial view of horrific Metra commuter train crash in Mount Prospect, IL where the conductor was seriously injured, a semi truck driver was killed and many people were injured and taken to local hospitals. Photo credit: WGN- TV Channel 9, Chicago

Mount Prospect is a suburb of Chicago and is located in Cook County, Illinois in the northeastern part of the state. It is about 24 miles northwest of the city of Chicago.

The spectacular crash occurred around 8:40 a.m. on Friday a few blocks away from the Cumberland station in Mount Prospect, IL at the train crossing near the intersection of Northwest Highway and Mount Prospect Road.


The semi truck was hauling a load of broken concrete when the driver apparently ignored the warning signals at the rail crossing and tried to get around the crossing gate when it crashed with the train.

Details are a little sketchy but it appears that the semi truck driver, 59 year-old Kazimierz Karasek, was travelling southbound on Mt Prospect Rd when he crossed Northwest Highway and approached a series of railroad tracks. The crossing gate was down and warning signals were flashing.

Karasek apparently went around the gate and into the northbound lanes of traffic leaving his cab exposed on the tracks when the oncoming southbound train smashed into the tractor-trailer. The collision spun the truck around, separated the cab from the trailer and spilled the load of broken concrete pieces all over the roadway.

Location of fatal crash and train derailment just a few blocks north of the Cumberland Station in Mount Prospect, IL where a semi truck was demolished and the truck driver was killed.

The tractor cab landed about 20 or 30 feet away off to the side of the tracks. Karasek was pronounced dead at the scene and the train’s conductor was seriously injured in the incident. The train’s conductor was taken to a local hospital and was reported to be in critical condition. It is not clear if any other railroad workers were injured in the incident.

Many passengers were injured in the mishap. An article on the train accident was posted in the Chicago Tribune website.

According to the article, 26 people were taken to hospitals after the crash and 10 other people were treated at the scene for minor injuries. Another article reported 28 people were taken to hospitals.

The Chicago Tribune article reports:

Police say (Karasek) apparently disregarded a “No Left Turn” sign as well as downed gates and crossing lights, and crossed into the northbound lanes of Mount Prospect Road to get around the northern gate. That left the cab squarely on the tracks as the train blew through the intersection, and the trailer and cab bent like a jacknife, with the trailer hitting the train cars.

The crash left some passenger cars badly damaged and derailed. One car had a large gash on its side where metal had gouged it out. After the collision, some passengers jumped out of windows to get out of the train.

After the crash there was a fire which blackened one of the rail cars. One of the passengers described the impact as an “explosion”. Another passenger on the upper deck of one of the cars saw flames in the stairs below where passengers had been standing only moments before.

The Chicago Tribune article reported that the truck driver “had been cited for more than 50 traffic violations, including a DUI, since 1986.”

No one will ever know what motivated the truck driver to bypass the crossing gates and attempt to go through the rail crossing when he did. Judging from an aerial view of the accident scene and the space between the intersection and the railroad tracks, perhaps the distance between the tracks and Northwest Highway may not have been long enough to clear the back end of the trailer and maybe he was trying get the rear of his trailer to clear the intersection. We will never know for sure.

Published by FELA lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP

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