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Train slams into Illinois school bus; five dead

smashed bus

'You could see the terror on their faces'

October 25, 1995
Web posted at: 1:50 p.m. EDT

FOX RIVER GROVE, Illinois (CNN) -- A Metra commuter train slammed into a school bus early Wednesday, tearing the bus off its chassis and killing at least five people.

"The bus spun around 180 degrees. You could see glass flying and you could hear the metal grinding across the pavement," said witness Coreen Bachinsky of Barrington.
Video footage of accident scene - 604K QuickTime movie

emergency worker

Five people were killed; local hospitals reported as many as nine injured. Onlookers at the scene estimated that number to be more like 15.

The Metra train was a commuter express headed for downtown Chicago. It had just left the Crystal Lake station on its way to Barrington. Metra said the train reached the Fox River Grove crossing at 7:10 a.m. CDT and was traveling around 50 mph when it collided with the back of the bus, spinning it around.

crash victim

The bus from Cary Grove High School was waiting to turn right onto Illinois 14, but the back of the bus extended over the Metra tracks.

Bachinsky watched the terrifying chain of events that began innocuously enough at the traffic light (298K AIFF sound or 298K WAV sound). Just before the crash, she said, the children aboard the bus seemed to see that they would be hit. "You could see the terror on their faces," she said (306K AIFF sound or 306K WAV sound).

emergency workers carrying stretcher

"The impact was unbelievable," said Sandy Lake, who called 9-1-1. Watching from her rear-view mirror, Lake saw bodies go flying through the air (255K AIFF sound or 255K WAV sound). She said she and others rushed to help the injured (281K AIFF sound or 281K WAV sound).

lost book

At least three helicopters were called to the scene to transport the injured, said a spokesman at Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington. The hospital had received seven patients, six of them seriously injured. "Other ambulances are on the way," said spokeswoman Julie Ortengren.

Lutheran General in Park Ridge reported it had admitted one critically injured female. At Loyola University Medical Center, spokesman Mike Maggio said the hospital had received one seriously injured person.

huddled victims

George Cochran of the National Transportation Safety Board in Chicago said a team was being dispatched to the scene.

"The cab part of the bus was completely sheared off," witness James Orlandino told WBBM radio, according to The Associated Press. "There were kids laying on the ground on the driver's side of the bus. It looked like they had been thrown out."

Metra said it was sending another train to the site to pick up commuter passengers and take them to Chicago. Traffic was reported snarled in the immediate area.


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AP contributed to this report.
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