ELEVATED train rear-ends another one near Chicago's Loop; dozens injured, hundreds stranded

Friday, August 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO (AP) _ An elevated train struck another one during morning rush hour Friday just north of the city's downtown Loop, injuring more than 100 people. None of the injuries were believed to be life-threatening.

The two six-car trains did not derail. But hundreds of passengers were stranded on the trains that collided and on other trains along the elevated line that were stopped after the accident.

``I heard the impact and there was smoke, soot and dirt everywhere. Things were flying down from the ceiling. There was a moment of chaos on the train; people were yelling to see if anyone was hurt bad,'' said Michael Cohen, a passenger on one of the trains.

Yvette Pughsley, who was walking nearby, heard ``a really loud boom and there was smoke everywhere.''

``The cars were rocking and I thought 'Oh, my God, it's going to turn over,''' she said. ``If it was going any faster, they would have turned over.''

Chicago Fire Department spokesman Chief Dennis Gault said at least 117 people were injured and would be taken to hospitals. The most serious injuries appeared to be broken bones, he said.

``There was a lot of whiplash and stuff like that,'' Chicago Fire Commission James Joyce said. ``These people got bumped around, and they were plenty scared.''

For reasons not immediately clear, one train was stopped on the tracks between stations when the other train, rounding a curve at no more than 6 mph, struck it from behind at about 9 a.m., said Frank Kruesi, president of the Chicago Transit Authority.

Both trains were in communications with their control center and should be have been able to see each other, Kruesi said.

``It shouldn't have happened. We're trying to find out why it happened,'' Kruesi said.

After the accident, passengers could be seen standing in the open doors of the trains while rescuers with ladders helped them down to the street below. By late morning, the trains involved in the crash were moved to a nearby station so more passengers could be removed.

Other trains were stalled on the lines and left powerless for more than an hour after the accident, leaving hundreds of commuters to swelter in packed cars with no air conditioning. The line was reopened late in the morning, Kruesi said.