A Chicago Transit Authority blue line train jumped the tracks and climbed an escalator at the station at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
Dozens of passengers were injured.
As Paul Meincke reports, the train operator may have nodded off at the controls.
Dion Stokes, Passenger: “At first I just thought he hit the brakes real hard. But after the impact I knew something wasn’t right.”
Blue line run 141 hit with such speed and force that the lead car was catapulted off the tracks, and pushed better than half way up an escalator.
Another 30 feet and it would have broken through the O’Hare station turnstiles.
32 people aboard the train were taken to hospitals with non-life threatening injuries – including the train operator who told those around her after the accident that she briefly fell asleep at the controls. That was confirmed this afternoon by her union president.
Bob Kelly, President, CTA Union: “There are indications that she dozed off, yes.”
The train operator has been with CTA for a year and was at the end of her shift when the crash occurred.
By the time a train reaches the O’Hare platform, it should be slowing to five miles an hour, but several sources say run 141 passed the end of the platform at 20 miles an hour or more. There is no event recorder on the train, but the NTSB says data from signals and multiple cameras in the terminal and on the train should answer the question of speed.
Tim DePaepe, NTSB: This train had a front-end outward-facing video, we are securing that video also, we will take possession of it, we will send it to Washington, DC for an examination.”
There are at least three trip arms that are designed to slow the train when exceeds the speed limit at a signal. N this case, it appears as though 200 ton eight car train had too much momentum to be stopped by trip arms, and the operator didn’t act fast enough.
The station will stayed closed for a while.
Forrest Claypool, CTA President: “That’s up to the NTSB, at some point they will release the train and then we can make that judgment.”