Driver of car in train collision faces charges; baby, wife hospitalized
By Dave Gathman email@example.com September 8, 2012 10:46PM
Four members of a South Elgin family were injured in a car-train collision on Saturday evening, September 8, 2012, at the Raymond street crossing in Elgin. | Dave Gathman ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 11, 2012 6:15AM
ELGIN — The 20-year-old father of a family injured in a car-train crash in Elgin Saturday night was driving without a license and had been drinking, police charged Sunday.
Meanwhile, his 14-month-old daughter had improved to “stable” condition, and his wife remained hospitalized.
Four members of the Pedro Bustamante family from South Elgin were injured, two seriously, as their car collided with a Metra train at the Raymond Street crossing in Elgin at about 9:45 p.m. Saturday.
Elgin Police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault said the car was being driven by Bustamante, 20, of the 300 block of Ann Street in South Elgin. Riding along were his wife, 19-year-old Brenda Ceja of the same address; their 14-month-old daughter; and their 5-year-old son.
Most seriously injured was the daughter, who was taken to Sherman Hospital in Elgin by ambulance, then flown by helicopter to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. The others were taken to Provena Saint Joseph Hospital in Elgin.
Ceja, who police said is pregnant, was being held for observation at Saint Joseph on Sunday. Bustamante and his son were released after treatment.
Though Bustamante has not been charged with driving under the influence, Theriault said he was charged Sunday with driving after consuming alcohol by a minor. He also was charged with a Class A misdemeanor, operating an uninsured vehicle while causing bodily harm, and with driving without a license and driving too fast for conditions.
Bustamante was released on bond pending a court hearing.
As the first post-crash train — a westbound run from Chicago — crawled past the scene at 12:03 a.m., several dozen passengers pressed their faces against its windows to see what had held up their journey. What they saw under the intense glare from fire department light towers was a dark blue 1997 Lincoln Continental with its entire engine area torn off and the entire windshield spider-webbed with fracture marks; the car’s engine, lying in the street about 20 feet away; and the car’s transmission, lying in the street about 10 feet away from the engine.
Nearby, the bottom half of a booster car seat designed for older children also sat on the pavement.
Theriault said the Lincoln apparently was southbound along Raymond Street when it went off the left side of the street. He said the car struck a guardrail protecting the crossing’s control box, then careened onto the tracks and was struck by the train’s locomotive. It did not damage the crossing gates, but investigators believe that was because the car passed to the left of the gates, not because the gates failed.
The train’s momentum kept it moving for several hundred more feet, almost as far north as Metra’s bridge across the Fox River. Theriault said that when the crossing gates went back up, an oncoming (northbound) driver on Raymond drove over the tracks without noticing the wrecked Lincoln on the other side of the crossing and was unable to stop his vehicle in time to avoid striking the wreckage. However, that driver was not injured and his car suffered only minor damage.
Theriault noted that it was raining and slippery at the time of the crash. He said accident reconstructionists have not yet estimated how fast the car was going.
Metra spokesman Tom Miller said the incident involved Train No. 2721, scheduled to arrive at the Chicago Street (“Elgin”) station at 9:53 p.m. Both it and inbound Train 2724, scheduled to leave from Chicago Street at 10:10 p.m., were held in place for about two hours while the crash was being investigated.
Raymond Street was closed for about four hours between Bluff City Boulevard and South Elgin.