Fatality Tracker: Woman dies after being hit by Rock Island Metra train


2012 fatality stats*:
Pedestrian: 3
Pedalcyclist: 0
Transit: 0

Updated March 16, 2012: I’ve recategorized this as a pedestrian death, and not a transit death. Also changed the deceased’s home location and corrected the Street View.

Gardenia Boyer, 23, from the Brainerd neighborhood, was struck and killed by an empty Metra train at 95th Street and Vincennes Avenue on the Rock Island branch going south towards Blue Island, Illinois. It happened on Wednesday morning, around 7 AM. She was walking east on 95th Street. There are two tracks here. Walking on 95th Street never seems like a good idea: the first fatality tracker post was about two people killed while crossing 95th Street. She had two daughters. 

Anne Alt describes the situation prior to the collision:

Since the victim was from Hammond, she may not have been familiar with the mix of operation patterns at this location, if she was even trying to catch a train there.  It’s possible that she could have been trying to catch a bus beyond the tracks from where she started.

The accident was on the main line, where train traffic patterns are a little confusing unless you know them – freight in off-peak hours (slow or fast), Metra express runs (either empties being shuttled or through trains to Blue Island and Joliet), and Metra runs that stop at the limited service stations at 95th/Vincennes and 103rd/Vincennes. The main line trains only run weekday rush hours and most of them are express. All other trains here are freight.

The last part is important because sometimes people cross one track without knowing the status of the other tracks, but a news report indicates she was struck on the near track.

View larger Stret View map

The news report with the best information was from ABC7. It may have the best information, but it sorely offends the victim and the situation. In the first paragraph, the article sets the tone I see so commonly in news media articles about crashes:

Wednesday morning’s commute was disrupted for some Metra riders when a train struck and killed a woman on Chicago’s Far South Side.

The report also notes that witnesses say she may have been wearing ear phones and goes on to mention that “injuries to headphone-wearing pedestrians have more than tripled in the past six years”.

Anne adds that there are no pedestrian crossing gates here (lacking on much of the south side, she believes), but offers an idea for retrofitting pedestrian crossing gates on the main arms that stop drivers:

Add one or two flashing lights at the butt end of the main gate arm.  Since the butt end intrudes slightly on the sidewalk space when the gate is down, and it’s at a fairly low line-of-sight level, this might be a cost effective alternative to adding sidewalk gates at the MANY crossings without them. The gates are already wired for lights, so the cables can just be extended to the other side and power a light there. But this would also be a good opportunity to evaluate if the slowly flashing red lights are the best choice to grab one’s attention (driver or pedestrian).

Updated November 23, 2012: Lawsuit filed

A lawsuit was filed Wednesday, November 21, 2012, in Cook County circuit court. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

[The suit] says the train was traveling too fast and didn’t sound its’ [sic] horn as it passed through the Beverly neighborhood on March 7.

The suit also alleges there were not adequate warning signs that a train was approaching when Boyer, of the 9500 block of South Mays Street, walked across the tracks. However, the court filing does not indicate specific warning systems — bells, flashing lights or pedestrian gates — failed to activate.

While Boyer’s death was ruled an accident at the time, the suit alleges the woman “lawfully upon the sidewalk and crossing the railroad tracks.”

The suit is seeking an unexpectedly low amount of $50,000 in compensation. The report doesn’t say if this is a “wrongful death” claim so I’m not positive if that means the lawsuit is trying to hold Metra accountable for Gardenia’s death.

* The information is only accurate as of this post’s publishing time, and is only accurate to the best of my knowledge. See all fatality tracker posts. Photo by Jamaal Thomas.

11 thoughts on “Fatality Tracker: Woman dies after being hit by Rock Island Metra train”

  1. In a later news story, the victim’s address was listed as being within a mile of the crash site.  My guess is that she may have been carrying old ID with the Hammond address when she was hit and that her family may have confirmed her current address.  When she was hit, she was walking in the direction of her home.  That news story also said that she had two young children, ages 3 and 5.

    That night, I was riding Metra on my way home from the Loop.  The conductor was talking to a friend about the accident, and they were discussing how many people get into dangerous situations while wearing headphones or texting.  The conductor added “and the crossing gates were working.”  I commented “Did you know that there are no crossing gates for the sidewalks at that location, only for the street?”  He said “Really?”  I said “Yeah.  I get on and off at many different stations on this line.  From Gresham to Blue Island, NONE of the crossings have pedestrian gates.”  His response was a totally surprised “Oh.”

    I haven’t taken the trail beyond Blue Island very many times, so I’m not sure if any of those stations have pedestrian gates.  Based on the general lack of them almost everywhere on the south side, I would guess there are probably none.  The nearest locations where I am *sure* there are ped gates are the drawbridges along the Calumet River at Mackinaw/Ewing, 95th St., 100th St., 106th St. and Torrence.  Just verified those on Google Maps street view.

    Here’s the street view of Wednesday’s accident site, in the victim’s direction of travel.  Here’s 95th & Wood (Rock Island sub line), which is probably the busiest south side station on that line.  This is 89th & Loomis on the same line.  You get the idea.

  2. Sounds like a ped crash to me, not a transit crash. See NTD for info on transit incident reporting.

  3. Hello, Steve. I’m the older brother of the victim ( Gardenia Boyer ). You mentioned there has been 3 Pedestrian accident at the Longwood Metra stop. Could you send me the info on those accidents? My family and I are in the process of legal actions against Metra.


  4. I believe the requirement in the initial filing is to state $50,000. I assume that $50,000 is the break point as far as how the case is handled and serves as notice that the damages will be over that amount. Going against TORT laws is a whole other topic!

    1. Thanks for this insight. I don’t know as much as I should about tort immunity laws. They are an important part of the open metal grate bridge lawsuits against the City of Chicago.


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