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Joliet woman killed in Downers Grove train accident - Bugle Newspapers: Downers Grove

Joliet woman killed in Downers Grove train accident

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Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 5:50 pm

A 51-year-old Joliet woman was killed last week in a train accident in Downers Grove.

Witnesses reported seeing the woman go around the crossing gate and stand on a track just east of the Main Street station, said Lt. Mike Willison, of the Downers Grove Police Department.

While a Metra commuter train was stopped just east of the Main Street, Sherri Jaskoviak, 51, of Joliet, walked around the crossing gate. It was reported that she was walking southbound when she stopped, and stood there when a westbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train struck her. The train was traveling about 40 mph at the time of the accident.

Authorities have not determined if the incident was a suicide. Jaskoviak was pronounced dead on the scene, and the incident is under investigation, said Willison.

A day before the fatal accident, George Swimmer, a Downers Grove resident and a member of the DuPage Railroad Safety Council, warned the village board about the dangerous state of village train crossings. Swimmer said that there is more that BNSF officials, who operate the freight trains that run through the village, could do to make crossings safer.

"If you live along the Union Pacific Line, you're probably a lot safer than living near a Burlington Northern Santa Fe line," he told the board.

A major concern is that most people don't recognize when a second train is coming into the station. Stops along the Union Pacific line use lights, verbal systems, as well as chimes to warn passengers when a second train is approaching.

Police said that this case is an issue with a person going around closed crossing gates.

"It's illegal to go through the gate before it goes all the way up," said Willison. "We will continue our education, to put out flyers and educate people, and hopefully get the message across," he said.

Last month a Westmont man was truck and killed by an Amtrak train while walking along the tracks near Cass Avenue and the BNSF line.

Authorities in Downers said that they've conducted 26 rail crossing enforcement campaigns this year, where they issued 15 citations and 52 warnings. Citations were issued in cases where a person went around the crossing gates while the gates were down, warnings were issued when police witnessed a person entering the track area, while the crossing gate were in the process of opening, said Willison.

"Officers stand there and watch. They're not undercover. They don't hide while they're watching (people violate crossing law)," he said.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe also conducts its own investigation in cases of train fatalities, said Willison.


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