Family of grandmother killed in Metra train crash says accident was ‘preventable’ at a crossing residents have complained about

The family of a woman killed when a Metra train slammed into a semi truck said Thursday they believe the accident was preventable, and they have heard from people who say traffic often gets stuck on the crossing in Clarendon Hills because of construction.

The family of Christina Lopez, 72, called on anyone who witnessed the accident Wednesday morning or had problems at the crossing at Prospect Avenue to come forward “so that no family has to go through this tragedy again.”

“It didn’t have to happen,” Lopez’s son-in-law Jeff Klonowski said in a front yard news conference in Downers Grove. “If anyone has information, video footage or any information that could get answers, please, please reach out.”

Lopez was taking the train to visit her sister in LaGrange, as she often did, when it hit a semi stopped across the tracks around 8 a.m. and threw her out of a train window, attorney Steven K. Jambois said. The driver got out of the semi before the truck was hit and exploded into flames.

The National Transportation Safety Board took over the investigation and was scheduled to hold a briefing Thursday afternoon.

The family, and their lawyer, said they have not heard from investigators but they have gotten calls from people who have complained in the past about the crossing, where construction has slowed traffic and back it up across the tracks.

“People were in harm’s way quite frequently,” Jambois said. “This was something that was bound to happen and was very preventable.”

He added that “residents have come forward and said they made complaints to the city but as far as I know nothing was done about it.”

Lopez was the mother of three daughters and five grandchildren. She was retired and had moved from Chicago to Downer’s Grove several years ago to be closer to her family. “She was the glue to the family … She will be terribly missed.”

Many of her family were together for Mother’s Day. “Little did we know the blessing of that time we had with her,” Klonowski said.

When Lopez did not show up at her sister’s Wednesday morning, she reached out to Klonowski and his wife, who checked her apartment and found sheriff’s deputies. “It was very shocking,” he said. “We should all be thankful for the time that we have.”

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