The Chicago Transit Authority train car rests on an escalator at the O'Hare Airport station after it derailed. Photo Reuters
More than 30 people were injured when a Chicago Transit
Authority train jumped the platform and climbed up an
escalator at the end of the Blue Line at O'Hare International
Airport, officials say.
"I heard a boom and when I got off the train, the train was
all the way up the escalator. It's a wreck," Denise Adams,
who was riding toward the back of the train, told reporters.
"It was a lot of panic because it was hard to get people off
Fire crews scrambled to determine if anyone was underneath
the train but no one was found, according to Chicago Fire
Commissioner Joe Santiago. All of the injured were aboard the
train and were taken in fair or good condition to four
hospitals, he said. The operator of the train "was walking
and talking as we were investigating," Santiago said.
The eight-car train was wedged near the top of an escalator
used by commuters at the Blue Line terminal. CTA spokesman
Brian Steele said workers may have to cut up the car and
remove it piece by piece, which could take 12 to 24 hours.
Then the damage will have to be assessed and repairs made
before trains use the station, he said.
In the meantime, shuttle buses will be used between Rosemont,
Ill., and O'Hare.
Steele said the cause of the accident remained under
investigation. "We don't know yet what led to this incident
... We will be looking at everything - equipment, signals,
the human factor, any extenuating circumstances," he said.
Steele did say the train was "apparently traveling at a
higher rate of speed than a train would be" while pulling
into the station and officials are trying to determine why.
He said the National Transportation Safety Board was also
The accident happened around 2:50 a.m. "There is a stop down
there for each track. There's three tracks there. The train
actually climbed over the last stop, jumped up the sidewalk
and went up the escalator," Santiago said.
More than 50 firefighters and paramedics responded, he said.
"We did not know if there was anyone underneath the train ...
so we brought in our specialized units to check underneath
there ... They made a visual to make sure no one was
Six people were listed in fair-to-serious condition and 26 in
good-to-fair condition, fire officials on the scene said.
Nine were transported to Resurrection Hospital, eight each
went to Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center and
Swedish Covenant Hospital, and seven went to Advocate
Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. All of the injured
were passengers on the train, officials said.
Robert Kelly, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local
308, which represents more than 3,500 CTA workers, said the
operator suffered minor injuries to her leg.
The operator will undergo drug and alcohol tests as part of
standard procedure, Steele said.
Initial inspections indicate that the front two cars of the
train were damaged as well as the escalator, officials said.
"Once we remove the train, we'll have a much clearer picture
of what the issues are there," said Chris Bushell, chief
infrastructure officer for the CTA. "At this moment, it looks
like we have significant damage to one escalator."
While there was some structural damage to the platform as
well, "the stairs look solid and the majority of the rest of
the structure underneath looks solid."
Steele said the accident occurred during one of the lowest
traffic times at the station.
While trains were stopped at O'Hare, they were running
between the Logan Square and Rosemont stops. Steele said the
agency is using large, reticulated buses between Rosemont and
O'Hare and they would operate on a load-and-go basis instead
of on a schedule. Once they are full, they'll leave. He
estimated the accident is adding 5 to 10 minutes to a trip to
Downstairs at the station, an annoyed customer approached
crime scene tape and said he had a flight to catch.
An officer paused before speaking, with a slight smirk and
dry delivery: "Well, a train derailed. It doesn't happen
every day, sir."
The train tracker above the station still showed an outbound
train was due in two minutes.