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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

After Teen Badly Hurt In Crash With Train That Killed Rideshare Driver, Norwood Park Prayer Service Planned

John O'Malley is in a coma and has several broken bones after the Friday afternoon crash.

The Metra crossing at Nagle and Avondale avenues.
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NORWOOD PARK — Two prayer vigils are planned this week in honor of a Far Northwest Side teen hospitalized after the rideshare he was in collided with a train in Norwood Park.

John O’Malley, a recent graduate of Notre Dame College Prep in Niles and a Norwood Park resident, is in an induced coma after suffering significant injuries in the Friday afternoon crash, according to family friends and multiple reports about the crash.

Friends said O’Malley had just gotten in a rideshare from his home and was headed to a graduation party in Evanston, according to ABC 7 Chicago. Around 3:55 p.m., the driver entered the train crossing at Nagle and Avondale avenues near Northwest Highway without stopping, even though the gates were down, a Metra spokesperson said in a statement.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Red tape dangles from a fence near the Metra crossing at Nagle and Avondale avenues in Norwood Park on August 9, 2021.

“The gates were down and the driver disobeyed the crossing [and] traffic regulations,” according to Metra. “We all feel for the family. We are all thinking of [O’Malley], and we hope for the best, but this was a completely preventable accident.” 

The 33-year-old driver died of his injuries about 7 p.m. Friday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. His identity has not been released.

Family friends are hosting a prayer service for O’Malley and his family 8 p.m Thursday at the outdoor grotto of Notre Dame College Prep, 7655 W. Dempster St. The community is invited to attend, and candles will be provided.

There will also be a mass 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Juliana’s Church, 7201 N. Oketo Ave.

Well-wishers also held a prayer service over the weekend.

The O’Malley family declined to be interviewed, but in a statement sent to Block Club through a family friend, they said they appreciate the care and support received from the community.

“[We] just ask that you keep John in your prayers,” the family said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Cars drive over the Metra crossing at Nagle and Avondale avenues in Norwood Park on August 9, 2021.

In 2017, a 25-year-old woman died after a Metra train hit her car at the same intersection. In 2014, a 17-year-old Taft High Schooler died while crossing the tracks a block south at Avondale and Bryn Mawr.

The Metra spokesperson said the last incident involving a train at the Nagle and Avondale intersection was in February 2018, but it was not a fatality. There were two fatal collisions there in 2017.

Danny Caccioppo, who lives two blocks from where the collision occurred, said there needs to be protections near the tracks.

“There’s always something happening by those tracks,” he wrote on Facebook. “We need better safety measures in that area. Taft kids have gotten killed.”

Caccioppo told Block Club he sometimes hears car crashes along the track intersections. He wants to see officials patrol the area to increase safety, perhaps from the nearby schools to help students navigate the crossing.

“Guards at the area to monitor the crossing, like at bus stops, [would be] good,” Caccioppo said.

Since the crash, Metra police has been stationed by the intersection and will be there for at least the next several days to enforce traffic regulations, an officer told a Block Club reporter Monday.

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