Teen killed at Seven Angels

Accident happens exactly 11 years after bus crash

Posted Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Seven Angels railroad crossing has claimed its eighth young life in Fox River Grove.

Justin Glassmyer, 15, was killed on his bicycle by a commuter train about 6:10 p.m. Wednesday — the 11th anniversary of the deaths of seven students in a school bus hit by a train at the same crossing.

Glassmyer, who lived near the crossing, was a sophomore at Cary-Grove High School.

Fox River Grove Assistant Fire Chief Jim Kreher arrived first at the scene. He ran there after someone came into the firehouse and said there was an accident at the tracks.

Glassmyer was pronounced dead at the scene.

There was no indication any equipment at the scene had malfunctioned, Fox River Grove Police Chief Robert Polston said.

Metra police were at the scene, but a special investigative team was brought in to conduct the investigation, Fire Chief Bob Kreher said.

Painful memories came flooding back Wednesday for residents at the scene.

“I was down here 11 years ago,” said Kathy Zumach, who said she was a neighbor of Glassmyer’s. “Same place. … Those poor people.”

On Oct. 25, 1995, a bus filled with students on their way to classes at Cary-Grove High School stopped at the crossing with its rear hanging over the tracks.

A Metra train traveling almost 70 mph slammed into the bus, knocking it off its frame and spinning it through the air.

The impact killed students Jeffrey Clark, 16; Stephanie Fulham, 15; Susana Guzman, 18; Michael Hoffman, 14; Joseph Kalte, 16; Shawn Robinson, 14; and Tiffany Schneider, 15.

Another 26 students suffered injuries ranging from minor bumps and bruises to life-altering wounds.

Polston, who was across the street showing state engineers the dangerous crossing when the 1995 crash occurred, said Wednesday, “There were no similarities, none at all,” with Wednesday’s accident.

Both Kreher brothers responded to the 1995 crash.

“It’s hard, something like that. It’s never easy, but to see a young person pass away in a tragic accident,” Bob Kreher said.

In the months after the 1995 tragedy, victims’ families spearheaded the charge for sweeping railroad reforms across the country. Their efforts led to significant changes in how rail crossings are designed, inspected and controlled.

Improvements have been made to railroad crossings around the world to make them safer than they were 10 years ago as a direct result of the Fox River Grove train/bus crash.

Bus routes are designed specifically to avoid crossing railroad tracks. Upgraded traffic signals give drivers more time to get clear of the tracks. Bus driver training has increased, and distractions for them have been reduced.

The crash prompted neighboring Crystal Lake school districts 47 and 155, which includes Cary-Grove High School, to change their bus routes and procedures. The districts also hired a full-time transportation safety director.

Cary-Grove High School will have grief counselors available first thing this morning for both students and staff, said Jeff Puma, Crystal Lake High School District 155 director of communications. CONTACT US

Send comments, calendar items and association meetings to Ardelle Chrastka at (847)427-4494.


Funeral arrangements were pending.