Truck's deadly crash into Chicago train station investigated

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Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO (AP) -- Skid marks, a boarded-up entrance and police tape reminded commuters Saturday of the destruction left by a tractor-trailer that smashed into a crowded train station and killed two pedestrians, as authorities reviewed surveillance footage of the crash.

"It definitely makes you cautious," said Tykeysha Vaughn, 22, as she exited the Cermak-Chinatown Red Line station, the site of Friday's accident during the evening rush hour.

Meanwhile, the mayor disputed claims by some neighborhood residents that the intersection where the accident occurred, near an expressway exit, was dangerous, with quickly changing stoplights.

"It was an accident, just an accident," Mayor Richard Daley said during an appearance at an unrelated event. He commended police, city workers and citizens at the scene who helped pull victims from the rubble.

The 51-year-old truck driver was hospitalized after his truck careered off the expressway and through a bus shelter under the elevated train tracks. The truck ended up wedged inside a stairwell leading from the station's street-level entrance.

The driver, whose blood-alcohol test was negative, was released from the hospital Friday night but led away in handcuffs for questioning by Chicago police.

He had not been charged with any crime as of Saturday, police said, and they would not say late Saturday afternoon whether he was still being questioned.

Few other details about the driver were available. The truck was operated by Plymouth, Mich.-based Whiteline Express Ltd., the company confirmed. A company spokeswoman declined to comment.

The crash around 5:20 p.m. Friday was captured by at least one CTA surveillance camera, CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney said. The footage was turned over to police, she said.

Officials declined to release the footage on Saturday.

The accident occurred south of downtown and steps from Chinatown. The station's main entrance was boarded up and blocked off, hiding the damage to the stairway and escalator. Authorities cordoned off areas with police tape while Chicago Transit Authority employees examined parts of the station.

Most of the 21 injured Friday had been either in the bus shelter underneath the elevated train or in the stairwell, said fire department spokeswoman Eve Rodriguez. The two women killed died at the scene, she said.

The Cook County medical examiner's office identified the women as Elosia Guerrero, 47, and Delisia Brown, 18. At least three people remained hospitalized Saturday afternoon, and all were reported in fair condition.

Guerrero was returning home from her job in room service at the Sutton Place Hotel in downtown Chicago, where she had worked for several years, said co-worker Keishana Moore.

"She had a wonderful sense of humor," Moore said. "She went out of her way to speak to everyone."

CTA engineers determined there was no structural damage to the station, but travelers were being asked to use a nearby auxiliary entrance. Elevated trains resumed stops at the station Saturday morning.