Rock Island Metra train struck vehicle in Morgan Park - FOX 32 News Chicago

Woman killed, kids injured after Metra train struck vehicle in Morgan Park

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A mother driving her two young sons to school was killed Tuesday morning when a Metra train struck her minivan in the South Side Morgan Park neighborhood, the Sun-Times is reporting.

Tristian Hicks Williams died in the collision when the No. 302 Metra Rock Island District Line hit her car at 8:15 a.m. at 115th Street near Vincennes Avenue, her sister Taja Hicks told the Sun-Times Tuesday.

The 26-year-old, of the 2400 block of West 79th Street, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office and Fire Media Affairs.

Williams' two sons, JonKing, 5, and Jayvon, 4, were injured but expected to be OK, she said.

JonKing, a first-grader whose sixth birthday is Wednesday, was out of surgery Tuesday afternoon to repair two fractured legs.

Hicks said Jayvon was "scared. Other than that, he's OK." He suffered bruises and cuts to his face.

"Right now, all I can tell you is she was a lovely wife and lovely mother," said her husband Bill Williams, on his way to be with JonKing after surgery. "That's all that really mattered. That's all that I really care about."

Williams and Hicks were both unclear about how the minivan ended up in the path of the train. Witnesses said Hicks Williams ignored active crossing gates, driving around them into the path of the oncoming train.

"I don't know what happened, her husband doesn't know," Hicks said at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where the boys were taken after the collision. "Nobody has talked to us or told us what had happened. Maybe she was running late. I don't know." Hicks described her sister as a creative and devoted mother who was always trying to find ways to engage her boys, neither of whom knew what had happened to their mother as of Tuesday afternoon.

"She's a really good mom," she said. "We just went to the circus Saturday. Anything she could find to do with the kids she would do."

Fighting hard to keep it together, Hicks wondered how she would deliver the awful news to her two nephews that their mother had died, possibly rushing to get them to school.

"They haven't asked yet," said Hicks. "I'm afraid of that question."

Taja Hicks said her sister sometimes took care of Hicks' young son.

"I always told her she needed to be a pre-school teacher," Hicks said. "She made up songs for my son to learn his multiplication tables."

Hicks said her sister had been married for about six years and that she and her husband, William Williams, had just bought their first home -- on the South Side.

The two young boys were assisted at the accident scene Tuesday by Perry Logan, 23, who was behind Williams' van when he watched her drive around the flashing gates.

"The rails were down, the lights were flashing, the train was going to come," he said. "I was right behind the car. The van just went around the railroad crossing and two seconds later the train."

Logan was driving his 5-year-old daughter to Curtis Elementary School and 3-year-old twins to daycare and had noticed that there were children in the van's backseat.

"I heard the children in the back crying, screaming for help, screaming ‘Mommy, somebody help me,'" Logan said. He helped one boy, whose face was cut and had a bloody nose, crawl out the back window. The other boy's legs were broken, Logan said.

"He wasn't able to move his legs," Logan said. "I didn't want to move him too much. He was conscious, screaming, begging me to pick him up, hold him."

He said he could see Hicks Williams breathing when he pulled the boys out. He was scared that the car was going to burst into flames, he said.

"I've seen movies where the police took too long to do something" and then dripping gasoline ignites a vehicle on fire, he said. "At the time I was scared. While I was pulling the kids out I was crying. But happy at the same time they were alive. It happened so fast."

Logan, who works as a busboy at a Japanese hibachi steak house, shrugged off the idea he was a hero.

"I feel like it's what anybody should have done," he said. "It's just something a normal person should do in a normal situation. I have kids myself, and I would want somebody to help my kids. I'm just trying to do my best to be a good citizen."

He was planning on taking one of his 3-year-old twins to the doctor Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning after her daycare teacher told him she was screaming throughout the day, upset about what she had seen.

Hicks said she was grateful for Logan's quick thinking.

"Thank you, thank you for everything you did to try to help my nephews in this situation, for lending your hand," she said.

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