Remembering a friend, and marking progress

By Hafsa Naz Mahmood
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Monday, February 12, 2007

Flowers, balloons, stuffed animals, drawings, baskets and more than 75 people gathered
Sunday at the train tracks at North Terrace Park in Villa Park to remember a loved one. And to mark a positive change. After Kristen Bowen, 14, was killed Feb. 11, 2006, while trying to illegally cross open railroad
tracks between Villa Park and Lombard, residents and officials of nearby communities knew they had to do something. This past year, there’s been much campaigning to place fences along the tracks and
increase railroad safety. And in a matter of weeks, new fences should be up. Villa Park Trustee John Davis said three years ago a young lady died crossing
the tracks, and even though at the time family members requested a fence be
put along the railroad tracks to prevent similar incidents, the idea fell through the cracks.
After Kristen’s passing, we wouldn’t let it go,” Davis said. “It’s a fence that nobody
thought would ever be put up. People have tried before, (and it took) the loss of another young child.” The fence will run roughly from Westmore Avenue to Grace Street on both sides of
the tracks, which fall in Villa Park and Lombard. The work was expected to be
completed three weeks ago, but the recent frigid weather slightly delayed the project. Village President Joyce Stupegia said Bowen has been an inspiration.
The village of Villa Park is working on this area to provide safety for all
our residents,” she said. “Let us not have this happen again in Villa Park
or in any of our other communities.” Lombard Trustee Steve Sebby said the fence, which is a direct result of Bowen’s death, is the first step toward awareness.
It’s a sad day today, but we all hope that some good will come out of
this tragedy from the hard work of both Lombard and Villa Park,” he said.