Car struck by train in Hinckley; driver killed

By Benji Feldheim - Daily Chronicle

HINCKLEY - Rail crossings in Hinckley are slated to be equipped later this year with gates that will close when trains approach - including at the crossing where a 56-year-old Sandwich man died Tuesday after his vehicle was hit by a freight train.

Dan F. Lindner was crossing the railroad tracks at South Oak Street just south of East Lincoln Avenue around 11:20 a.m. when his vehicle was struck by an eastbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train that was unable to stop before hitting his car.

Lindner is believed to have slowed down before entering the crossing, Hinckley Police Chief David Walker said late Tuesday afternoon during a phone interview, but Walker noted that authorities are still talking with witnesses to the accident.

The impact sent Lindner's vehicle spinning into a ditch adjacent to East Lincoln Avenue, according to Hinckley resident Rob Zimmerman, who was standing on the north side of Lincoln Avenue at the time of the crash.

“I was outside shoveling the sidewalk when I heard a boom,” Zimmerman said. “All I saw at first was a bunch of snow blowing around, and then I ran inside to call the village police.”

The warning lights and bells at the crossing were working properly at the time of the accident, and the train sounded a warning horn as it approached the crossing, Walker said at the accident scene.

The gates at the railroad crossings - as well as new lights and warning sirens - should be installed between late March and early April, Hinckley Village President Joe Diedrich said during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.

“The contract for the work has been sent to the Illinois Commerce Commission,” Diedrich said. “Work is expected to start as soon as the weather clears.”

Diedrich has been petitioning the state for aid in paying for gates - which cost about $20,000 apiece to install - at the crossings for a number of years, he said.

Lindner was pronounced dead around noon by DeKalb County Deputy Coroner Karlene Dolder, according to a news release from the coroner's office.

The Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train was allowed to leave around 1:30 p.m. after it was stopped for about two hours at the Oak Street crossing, BNSF spokesman Steve Forsberg said Tuesday afternoon in a phone interview.

The crew running the train when the accident happened was replaced by another crew after requesting trauma relief, Forsberg said.

Hinckley's police and fire departments, as well as the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and the coroner's office, are still investigating the cause of the accident, Walker said around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday.

Tuesday's incident was at least the 12th train accident that involved a pedestrian or vehicle in DeKalb County since September 2006, according to an analysis of stories that have appeared in the Daily Chronicle. It was the eighth fatality in the same time period.

Reporter Benji Feldheim can be reached at bfeldheim@daily-chronicle.com.

 

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