Blue Line Derailment: Investigators interview operator, lawsuits - FOX 32 News Chicago

Blue Line Derailment: Investigators interview operator, lawsuits filed

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Three lawsuits were filed late Tuesday afternoon by passengers aboard the derailed CTA Blue Line Train.

The suits all alleged the CTA and the train's operator failed to take steps that could have prevented the accident, which injured 32 people.

"I heard a loud noise. I felt my body get thrown from the seat in front of me to the seat behind me," said Niakesha Thomas, one of three women suing the CTA.

Thomas was headed to her job at Hudson News store at O'Hare when she was injured. She was riding in the third car and suffered injuries to her back. She said she never felt the train slow down or felt the brakes applied before the sudden stop.

After the crash, Thomas got out of the train with the help of another passenger and described the scene as chaotic.

"When I stepped out, I kind of hollered because I see the train sitting on the escalators that I'm supposed to be going up in a minute to go to work. But the train has derailed. It's in the airport. I'm shocked," Thomas added.

"There are questions regarding operator negligence. There are questions regarding maintenance of the tracks, brakes, the emergency brakes in particular," said Thomas' spokeswoman.

The emergency brakes are now front and center in the investigation being conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Investigators spent about two hours interviewing the train operator Tuesday afternoon, who has worked for the CTA for about a year. Investigators also talked to other CTA personnel involved in Blue Line operations.

The union that represents the driver said she may have fallen asleep while the train was entering the O'Hare station.

On Tuesday, investigators said they've determined the train was not speeding as it approached the platform, but apparently tripped a signal that applied the brakes, which for some reason did not stop the train in time.

"We've determined that the train came into that center pocket around 25 mph to 26, there's a plus or minus one mile variance…and we do know that the track stop did activate the emergency brake on the train," said a NTSB Investigator Ted Turpin.

The train remains in place, which means the O'Hare Blue Line station is still closed. Shuttle buses are being used to transport passengers between the Rosemont stop and O'Hare.

There has been no word yet on when crews will be able to begin cutting up the train and removing it, but it could take some time.

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