Train kills wheelchair-bound man




Tuesday, May 13, 2008 11:01 PM CDT



CARBONDALE - A 69-year-old Carbondale man died after his wheelchair was struck by a passing freight train at the Walnut Street (eastbound Illinois 13) railroad crossing Tuesday afternoon.

Authorities were withholding the victim's name until family could be contacted, according to a Carbondale police press release. As of Tuesday evening, the name had not been released.

The incident happened at 12:16 p.m., stated a report from the Carbondale Police Department. Preliminary investigation revealed the victim was traveling west on the south sidewalk of Walnut Street when he attempted to cross the tracks in front of a northbound Canadian National freight train.

Police said warning lights and gates at the crossing were working properly at the time of the incident.

Bill Stodden of Carbondale was waiting in his car at the crossing gates when he said he noticed the wheelchair-bound man trying to cross the tracks.

"He was coming across the tracks. It looked like he got stuck; then the train hit," Stodden said.

The train was blaring its horn as it approached the crossing and came to an abrupt stop after striking the victim, Stodden added.

Emergency crews transported the victim to Memorial Hospital of Carbondale just before 12:30 p.m.

Hospital officials announced after 3 p.m. Tuesday the victim had died, but it was unclear whether he was dead on arrival at the emergency room.

Both Carbondale and Illinois State Police directed traffic around the scene for nearly two hours after the accident as investigators surveyed the site. By 2:10 p.m., the train had cleared all crossings and streets had reopened, City Manager Jeff Doherty said.

Canadian National spokesman Patrick Waldon said the train was en route to Champaign from Fulton, Ky. / 351-5090 / 351-5031



CLAUDETTE ROULO / THE SOUTHERN A Carbondale police officer talks with a man on the other side of the tracks as the wheelchair that was hit by the train rests in the foreground Tuesday in Carbondale.