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UNIVERSITY PARK, IL – One person was killed in a train accident while driving an SUV through a railway crossing in University Park, IL about 9:42 p.m. Friday evening, April 16, 2010. The fatal train accident happened at the railway crossing just east of the intersection at Stuenkel Rd and Governors Hwy.

Railroad workers from the Canadian National Railway check the signals at the Stuenkel Road crossing Monday following Friday's fatal crash. Photo credit: Joseph P. Meier / SouthtownStar

University Park is in the northern part of Illinois about 40 miles south of Chicago, about 159 miles northeast of Peoria, 187 miles northeast of Springfield, 151 miles northeast of Decatur and about 249 miles northeast of Mount Vernon.

The driver of the SUV who was killed in the accident was dance instructor Katie Lunn, 26 years old, from the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago, IL. At the time of the accident, the gray SUV that she was driving was sandwiched between drivers of other cars who had braked for a stop sign at the time the Amtrak train was heading through the crossing.

The Amtrak train was traveling northbound about 79 mph at the time of the accident.

Location of fatal train accident in University Park, IL at the Stuenkel Rd. railway crossing just east of Governors Highway.

People who are familiar with that particular railroad crossing report that it is difficult to navigate. On Stuenkel Rd. there are two sets of tracks that drivers have to cross. The tracks are close to a four-way blinking stop sign and drivers have only one traffic lane in each direction. There is a lot of traffic that pours out from nearby Governors State University, and drivers are often in a hurry. Reports are that warning lights and gates at the rail crossing weren’t working at the time.

A police report after the accident stated that a railroad worker tried in vain to stop the accident. Earlier, railroad employees with Canadian National (CN) Railway were repairing a malfunction at the crossing. They  deactivated the crossing lights to allow an Amtrak train to pass through during a test run.

Officials did acknowlege that a CN crew was working nearby earlier Friday, but they wouldn’t comment on whether that work may have disabled the lights and gates at the Stuenkel Road crossing.

The crash is being investigated by the federal railroad administration.

Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP, is a top nationwide FELA lawyer law firm representing railroad workers injured on the job who need experienced lawyers knowledgeable in the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA). For more information about FELA, IL FELA Law, and FELA rights, contact an experienced FELA attorney at 800.773.6770.

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