Published: 10/11/06

A 34-year-old Westmont man was killed instantly at about 1:15 p.m. Oct. 6 when, witnesses told police, he ran directly in front of an outbound Metra train just east of the Cass Avenue crossing in Westmont.

Westmont police said the man was identified as Jeffrey R. Christner, of the 400 block of South Cass Avenue. The man was unemployed and police contacted his mother, who lives in North Aurora, according to Sgt. Paul Chrzanowski.

Witnesses report that Christner ransouthbound onto the tracks and directly into the path of a Metra train traveling outbound from Chicago's Union Station. Police said the accident occurred a short distance east of the grade crossing at Cass and Burlington avenues.

"We're not sure whether it was an attempt to beat the train or something else," Chrzanowski said.

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Police said a suicide cannot be confirmed but remains a possibility. Police said they did not recover a note or any other indication of a suicide. Autopsy results have yet to be released by the DuPage County coroner's office.

Passengers were inconvenienced when three outbound trains were delayed, and one inbound train was canceled, between Chicago and Aurora.

Metra spokesperson Patrick Waldron said trains on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line experienced an average delay of 22 minutes after the incident. Two of the three sets of tracks were taken out of service for more than an hour as the investigation took place, and trains moved slowly through the area on the remaining set of tracks, Waldron said.

Westmont and Metra police, along with personnel from the coroner's office, conducted an investigation until 3:40 p.m., when both train and vehicle traffic along Cass Avenue were returned to normal capacity.

After the accident, police arranged bus transportation for passengers on the train that struck Christner to the Fairview Avenue station in Downers Grove. Metra met those passengers with an outbound train at Fairview to prevent longer delays, Chrzanowski said.

Alison Swade's e-mail address is:
aswade@libertysuburban.com