Train injures 16 when it slams trapped cars

Cars became trapped between the gates.
ELMWOOD PARK, Ill. (AP) -- A group of cars hit by a commuter train at a busy suburban Chicago crossing had 54 seconds from the time the gates were activated until the train came barreling through, an official with the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.
The crossing gates appeared to be working, but traffic was backed up during the evening rush Wednesday, and several cars became trapped between the gates, acting NTSB chairman Mark Rosenker said.
"The cars were in a place they shouldn't have been at the time," Rosenker said. The train hit them because they had nowhere to go, he said.
Sixteen people were injured when the train slammed into the trapped cars and started a chain reaction in the heavy traffic. Three remained hospitalized in stable to serious condition Thursday, Rosenker said.
Investigators are looking into whether the traffic signals at the long diagonal intersection gave vehicles enough time to clear the tracks. They also planned to interview the train's crew members today, and were investigating human error and other possible reasons for the crash.
A spokesman for the Metra train service said the vehicles shouldn't have been in the train's path in the first place. A large sign above the tracks reads: "Long crossing. Do not stop on the tracks."
"It's right above the gate" said Metra spokesman Patrick Waldron. "If you followed that sign, you wouldn't have been on the tracks."
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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