ROGERS PARK — The CTA Yellow Line crash that left 38 people injured on Thursday was caused by a “design issue” on the train that let it slam into a snow removal train, the National Transportation Safety Board said Saturday.
The train that collided with the snow equipment near the Howard Street station had an old braking system that was designed to stop within 1,780 feet, but didn’t, National Transportation Safety Board chair Jennifer Homendy told reporters Saturday.
Homendy also said the train’s wheels slipped as the operator was braking due to residue on the tracks, the Sun-Times reported.
Homendy said the operator did not appear to be distracted, and the snow removal equipment was scheduled to be on the tracks at the time of the crash, according to the Tribune.
The National Transportation Safety Board on Friday opened its investigation into the crash that left three people in critical condition and dozens more hurt. The board investigates transit accidents and safety issues and offers recommendations for accident prevention.
Thirty-eight people were reported injured, though 15 declined medical attention, according to the Sun-Times.
According to Homendy, NTSB investigators will be on scene collecting evidence for about five days, including data from event recorders and cameras.
“This was very serious,” Homendy said. “We never want to see a tragedy like this occur. But what we want to do is figure out how to prevent that from happening again.”
She said she was unsure when the Yellow Line would reopen, though she hopes it will be within five days. Red Line service had been partially suspended Thursday but reopened later that afternoon.
NTSB has not yet sent any safety recommendations to the CTA. The board is likely to release a preliminary report containing facts about the crash in a few weeks, Homendy said, with a full analysis to come in 12 to 18 months.
Clifford Law Offices, a firm that specializes in personal injury cases, has already filed two lawsuits against the CTA in the Circuit Court of Cook County. Partner Joseph T. Murphy is representing Matt Jones, 67, and Cleon Hawkins, 52, who were both injured in the crash.
Murphy said he’s seeking compensation for their injuries and the work that Jones and Hawkins will miss.
“We would like to hold CTA accountable for this,” he told Block Club. “It was obviously avoidable.”
This is not the first time CTA trains have crashed.
In 2019, a Brown Line train collided with a Purple Line train near the Sedgwick station, leading 14 people to be brought to the hospital. And in 2014, a Blue Line train derailed at O’Hare International Airport and injured more than 30 people after the driver — who had worked 12 consecutive days — dozed off.
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