Troubling trend: Three die in CTA rail incidents

In just a week’s time, three people died in three different incidents at CTA rail stations.

The first victim was a 14-year-old boy who was playing around with friends March 23 at the Illinois Medical District station on the Blue Line. After a friend dared him to jump on the tracks, the boy inadvertently touched the third rail and later died at Stroger Hospital.

Then four days later, a 52-year-old North Side man somehow fell in front of a train at the Bryn Mawr Red Line station. The Tribune reports it was unknown whether the man fell or jumped. He too died a couple of hours later. I wrote about some of the rush-hour chaos caused by this.

Finally, at about 8:45 p.m. on Friday, a man jumped in front a Brown Line train at the Francisco stop. Police called this incident a suicide.

Three different incidents – horseplay, a fall, a suicide – with the same tragic results. Let’s hope it’s not an emerging trend. Please be safe out there.


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  • I'm glad you recognized it for what it was--tragic.

    At least the Red Line reports in the Tribune were confusing, in that the person supposedly only had "facial injuries," but a couple of hours later was declared dead.

    Anyway, CTA had too much of this last week, and, of course, Metra has had too much of this for several years.

    I wondered why transit wasn't like the Disney World monorail and had sliding doors at the edge of the platform that opened after the car doors stopped there, but I guess that wasn't practical.

  • 1. The first one, where a boy took a dare & jumped to the tracks is social Darwinism at its finest!
    2. Metra's suicide problems escalated when the crook that was running Metra, Phil Pagano, decided to end it before he was arrested by laying down in front of one of his own trains.
    Suicide by Metra went out of control after that, especially along the two Milwaukee Road lines.
    I personally saw one exactly a week after Pagano killed himself.
    3. Only a few transit systems in the world have platform doors that line up with the train car doors. It requires a totally automated system, something that won't be seen here for at least 50 years. This is, after all, a system that can't even get it's 30 year old ATC to work correctly, what with constant false positive signals to the motorman to slow or stop the train, even though the track is clear for two miles ahead!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Most of the ATC is less than 10 years old, given the last Dan Ryan project (at least they built some kind of signal houses over the tracks, if they didn't do anything else for the $250 million), the entire Blue Line signal project, the Brown Line, and the ongoing Loop work. So, if it isn't working, it, again, isn't because most of it is old.

  • In reply to jack:

    I should have been more specific.
    It's 30 year old technology as far as the CTA uses it, but it's actually far older than that.
    The Key System in Oakland used a form of cab signals way back in the 1940s on the Bay Bridge due to the fog obscuring wayside signals.
    I just wish we could get an honest answer as to why the ATC doesn't work properly & constantly creates false positives that either slow or stop trains. While very annoying on the Loop L or any other portion with lots of turns or curves, it's flat out maddening on the 4 track NSM between Lawrence & Devon where you can see for two miles that no trains are in front of the one you're on!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Just saying that cab systems are old doesn't necessarily mean that the technology being used is. For instance, CTA converted to bidirectional CTC when the O'Hare extension opened, but, it so happens, that is about 27 years ago.

    The real issue is that it appears that the slow zones are programmed into the system, and, according to the current slow zone map, there are a bunch of them on the segment between Lawrence and Morse.

    Other than that, the operation seems to be described at, although you will probably have to cut and paste that reference, since Graham doesn't accept referred links.Maybe the bad track indicates that it is not conducting the signals properly.

  • I dont think this solution would scale to the CTA, but I would be in favor of Metra trains continuing traveling in the event of obvious stoic-victim-facing-the-train cases of suicide (provided that parts thereof did not get caught in axles or block the locomotive windows).

  • In reply to urbanleftbehind:

    I suppose that one would need the usual "police activity," if nothing else, to remove the remains and notify next of kin. It isn't like the usual dead skunk or possum in the road (and the skunk sure leaves evidence, other than its Pepe le Pew coat).

    Some people have commented that in either event, a person contemplating suicide should take into account that they will be messing up thousands of peoples' commutes before using that method. I'm sure that doesn't happen, though, and since Scooter reminds us of Pagano, obviously Phil knew better, but engaged in the ultimate irony.

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