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After 3 Killed on Train Tracks, Police Launch Awareness Campaign

By Darryl Holliday | June 6, 2013 8:44am
 Vandalism, illegal crossings and school closings are all on list of problems awaiting solutions.
After 3 Killed on Train Tracks, Police Launch Awareness Campaign
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ROSELAND — After three people were run over by trains in a single week, authorities have launched a safety campaign to educate the community.

The three individuals were hit in separate incidents along State Street at 114th, 115th and 116th streets between May 12 and May 16.

Chicago police joined with Union Pacific Railroad police, Amtrak police and CSX authorities on Wednesday to educate the public and enforce railroad crossing laws in the neighborhood.

According to Adrian Guerrero, director of public affairs for Union Pacific, improvements to fencing surrounding the area where the three people were hit is in the works, including addressing a six-foot gap in a fence residents frequently use to cross the tracks.

Guerrero stopped short of detailing a timeline for the initiative but said authorities were "looking at every avenue" available.

Freshly painted "no trespassing" signs along the tracks were visible Wednesday.

But the improvements came too late for Martha Gutierrez-Perez, the last of the three victims, who was struck on May 16 while pushing her laundry cart across the tracks to a nearby laundromat.

From their home, less than a block from where police officials were conducting Wednesday's safety campaign, Carlos Perez, Gutierrez-Perez' brother, said the safety procedures currently in place where his sister was killed were less than inadequate.

"I don't believe it was solely her fault," he said. "That's what we want to find out."

Neighbors said the woman was often seen crossing the tracks with her cart. She also regularly made a 2½-hour trip to Victory Outreach International church every day, Perez said.

An autopsy report from the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office showed that Gutierrez-Perez died from multiple injuries and also attributed her death to the "train striking pedestrian while talking on cellular phone."

According to police, the series of sirens, red lights and protective bars start approximately 20 seconds before a train crosses an intersection. But some residents worry even that more needs to be done, especially when Songhai Elementary school closes in the coming school year and students are transferred to Curtis Elementary — located two blocks away, across the tracks.

"There's going to be a lot more traffic when the children come," Perez said. "I wonder what the alderman is planning on doing."