CTA Trains Running After 'L' Derails In Lincoln Park, Injuring Two

By Paul BiascoEmily Morris and Lizzie Schiffman  on May 9, 2013 11:48am  | Updated on May 9, 2013 3:23pm

LINCOLN PARK — CTA trains are running - with delays - hours after an "L" train derailed near the Armitage Station Thursday morning, leaving two people injured, authorities said.

Red, Brown and Purple line trains were affected as crews worked to fix a stretch of track damaged when the back wheels of the next-to-last car on a southbound Red Line train came off the tracks about 11:30 a.m. just north of the Armitage station.

The accident tore up sections of the track as the train ground to a halt.

At least two people suffered injuries in the derailment, one of whom was taken to an area hospital, according to Chicago Police.

The CTA shut off power to the trains after the incident, CTA spokeswoman Catherine Hosinski said. By Thursday evening, the agency still did not have information about what caused the derailment or what repairs were made.

The Chicago Fire Department immediately sent a massive emergency response team to the scene as a precaution, according to Fire Department spokesman Kevin MacGregor. 

"The entire apartment started shaking," said DePaul student Michael Gomez, whose apartment overlooks the section of the track. "We saw the train literally coming off the track, ripping up the wood."

CTA emergency crews were the first on the scene and began helping people off the tracks. Most of the 64 people on the train walked about 15 feet to the Armitage platform, but two had to be put in a "stair chair" because they were afraid to walk on the rail. A third person was taken off the train in a Fire Department bucket lift.

"I imagine people were getting rocked inside," Gomez said. "It was really loud it kind of sounded like a car crash."

While Gomez heard the crash from inside his kitchen, 24-year-old Connor Mulvey was walking less than 100 yards from the derailment.

"I just heard a big boom sound, and then just a huge screech and everyone screaming," Mulvey said. "Girls were screaming at the top of their lungs. I just saw it screech to a halt."

Owen Burton, 19, a freshman music student at DePaul, was on the car ahead of the one that derailed. He described a less violent scene.

"It wasn't very abrupt; it was more like this uncomfortable grinding as we came to a stop," he said. "Once the power shut off, that's when it became clear that something was wrong."

Passengers noticed the next-to-last car was not aligned with the rest of the train, he said. Burton said passengers were held on the packed damaged train for 20 to 30 minutes before they were transferred to a northbound Red Line train, where they waited for about an hour.

"People started talking and joking around and trying to open the emergency door just because it was really hot," he said. When the northbound train arrived, "we opened up our doors and their doors, laid two 2x4 planks and then walked across to the unaffected car and unloaded our train onto theirs."

Griffin O'Neil, another DePaul student who was on the train, said it was "really shaky and super choppy," once the wheels went off the track.

On at least one Brown Line train, customers were told the service interruption was due to a "medical emergency."

Some witnesses of the derailment who ride the "L" regularly said it was a bit of a wakeup call.

"It’s basically in my backyard. I’m not scare to ride it, but I’m always going to second guess it now," said 22-year-old Rana Sweis.

Sweis's friend Victoria Gallagher's car was parked directly under a portion of the tracks where the train derailed and was damaged by falling debris.

She said the car was surrounded by massive screws and wood chips that fell from the tracks.

"I woke up and of course my car is the only one that gets damaged," the 20-year-old said.

Service on the Red Line was suspended between the Belmont and Grand stations, the CTA said. The Brown Line was suspended between Belmont and the Clark/Lake stations.

Shuttle buses were being used to take commuters between stations.

The cars were upright and stable by about noon, the Fire Department said.

The CTA is working to restore service to normal by the evening rush hour, according to Hosinski. It wasn't immediately clear whether the section of the track would be fixed by rush hour or if trains will be diverted away from the affected area.

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