Kristen Bowen's family, friends laud progress
made one year after girl's death on tracks
By Wilson Brown
year ago, Ray Zukowski said, there weren't enough warning signs or barriers
along the railroad tracks in Villa Park and Lombard.
wasn't much to stop a Jefferson Middle School or Willowbrook High student from
taking a shortcut along the tracks.
a year ago this month, there wasn't a special railroad safety task force
consisting of state officials, Union Pacific chiefs and law enforcement
that changed, however, after parents in the neighboring towns took on the issue
after Zukowski's 14-year-old daughter, Kristen Bowen of Lombard, died while
crossing the tracks Feb. 11, 2006.
a Willowbrook High School student, was struck and killed by a freight train
while taking a shortcut along the tracks about a quarter mile from Addison
was no fence where Kristen crossed.
that time, though, Villa Park began placing new warning signs near the tracks
and both Lombard and Villa Park purchased thousands of feet of wrought iron
fencing now being erected along the tracks and the four cul-de-sacs in Lombard
that dead end there.
railroad safety fencing being installed along the east/west railway represents
a huge victory for (Targeting Education Awareness & Railroad Safety) and
Kristen's Law supporters," Zukowski said.
the accident, Zukowski went to work starting up TEARS and a Web site dedicated
to Kristen and advocating solid concrete fencing near schools and parks in
Villa Park and Lombard along with Villa Park Trustee John Davis.
her loss we have learned to come together as a community and do what others say
would never happen. We are having fencing put up along the tracks at two
communities," Davis said in a written statement on behalf of Kristen's
family inviting community members to a remembrance ceremony this weekend.
going to fix it all up and have it looking good again," said Helen Byrd,
Zukowski's girlfriend, who helped coordinate the ceremony. "I think she
would've loved the fence."
Wilson Brown's e-mail