Families Mourn Deaths of Train Crash Victims
Sanchez, Robert, Kennedy, Kristy, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Byline: Robert Sanchez and Kristy Kennedy Daily Herald Staff Writers
Icy tracks and traffic may have led to deaths
Family and friends of the three people killed Monday in separate commuter train crashes are still asking why their loved ones died.
But investigators are focusing the blame on icy railroad tracks and traffic backed up by snowy roads for the tragic convergence of crashes in Lombard and Downers Grove.
John Ghislain and Jason Zhao died when their vehicles got stuck on the icy tracks in Downers Grove.
Nadine Stec was killed as she watched her step across the slippery tracks in Lombard. She never saw the express train that hit her, despite the fellow commuters who screamed at her not to cross the tracks.
While authorities Tuesday continued investigating why three DuPage County residents died in three train-related deaths the day before, family and friends of the victims were waiting for answers.
"I can't believe my dad died that close to someone else being killed on the same line," said Jon Ghislain, whose dad, John, was the first of three people to die within 1 1/2 hours Monday morning in accidents involving Metra commuter trains.
Downers Grove police said weather was a contributing factor to the deaths of John Ghislain, 55, of Lombard, and 34-year-old Woodridge resident Jason Zhao, who was killed by another train less than two miles from Ghislain.
"They were both in situations where traffic was backed up onto the railroad crossings," Sgt. William Burnham said. "The reason traffic was backed up was because of the weather."
Both crossings were slippery due to ice and snow, police said. Both men were unable to get their cars off the tracks when the gates started coming down.
Ghislain was driving a 15-seat van when he was hit about 6:40 a.m. by an eastbound train at the Maple Avenue crossing. Zhao, was in a 1997 Toyota when he was hit about 8:05 a.m. by an eastbound train at the Belmont Road crossing.
"In the Maple accident, what appeared to happen is that he (Ghislain) pressed the gas to get off the tracks but slid sideways," Burnham said. "So he was kind of jockeying the vehicle back and forth - trying to get off. …