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IL Bridge Collapse, Derailment Kill 2

Monday, July 9, 2012

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Federal authorities are investigating the collapse of a railroad bridge that derailed a 138-car freight train and crushed a couple in their car in a Chicago suburb.

 Stan Golovchuk / Patch

 Stan Golovchuk / Patch

The scene has been the site of two previous derailments: one in 2009 and one in 1974.

The Federal Railroad Administration is leading the investigation into the July 4 accident in Glenview, IL, that claimed the lives of Burton Lindner, 69, and his wife Zorine Lindner, 70. The couple had two children and four grandchildren.

28-Car Derailment

Twenty-eight of the Union Pacific railcars, each carrying up to 85 tons of coal, went down when the 86-foot-long viaduct collapsed. The train was en route from Wyoming to Milwaukee at the time.

Initial reports said that no one was injured in the accident, but the Lindners’ flattened car was discovered the next morning under the wreckage. They lived about a block from the site.

Another derailment occurred at the same location in 2009, and the bridge was rebuilt last summer. The same viaduct also collapsed in 1974, derailing 22 railcars.

The Lindners’ family has already filed suit against Union Pacific, accusing the railroad of negligence, according to the Chicago Tribune.  The suit contends the railroad failed to properly maintain and inspect the track around the overpass.

Heat Kinks Cited

Union Pacific contends that the derailment was caused by kinks in the rails caused by the heat. The victims’ lawyer disputed that notion.

"I don't care how hot it was; trains aren't supposed to fly off the tracks and crush innocent people," attorney Michael LaMonica said at a news conference Friday (July 6).

 Zorine and Burton Lindner

 Family photo

Zorine and Burton Lindner lived about a block from the accident site. Their car was not discovered until the day after the accident.

The Tribune quoted a Union Pacific spokesman as saying that railroad inspectors and monitoring equipment were on the tracks before the accident to check for track gauge abnormalities, a standard procedure twice a day during extreme heat or cold.

A “slow order” was in effect for the train, reducing the normal 50 mph limit to 40 mph. The spokesman said the train was traveling at 37 mph at the time of the accident.

Court Order Issued

The family obtained a court order to temporarily halt Union Pacific from cleaning up the site in order to send in videographers and experts to review the scene. The family accused the railroad of carelessly disturbing the scene in its haste to restore service.

Union Pacific has built a temporary bridge at the site. The Federal Railroad Administration has inspected the temporary bridge and deemed it structurally sound.

Representatives of the Villages of Glenview and adjacent Northbrook and area state and federal legislators met July 6 with representatives of Union Pacific, the FRA and Illinois Department of Transportation to discuss the accident.

Union Pacific representatives are scheduled to answer questions from community residents on July 16.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Health and safety; Rail; Railcars

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