Truck driver cited in Bartlett train crash
By Dave Gathman email@example.com October 23, 2013 5:12PM
Workers survey the damage after an inbound Milwaukee West line Metra train hit a truck in downown Bartlett Monday afternoon, causing major delays on the commuter line. | Jon Langham/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 24, 2013 11:34AM
BARTLETT — The driver of the semi-trailer truck that was struck by a Metra train in downtown Bartlett Monday was a Pennsylvania resident who apparently was trying to make a U-turn and may have been lost.
According to Metra police, the driver has been identified as Volodimyr Matkivski, 41, of Warminster, Pa. He was issued citations for allegedly violating a highway/rail grade crossing rule, by stopping on the tracks and not having sufficient clearance between a stop sign and the tracks; and for allegedly ignoring a sign that bans left turns from Oak Avenue onto Bartlett Avenue.
Metra spokeswoman Meg Reile said Matkivski was working for Ace Management Co. of Richboro, Pa. The truck he was driving was an auto rack carrying four automobiles.
Police did not report where he was going or where he was coming from. But according to their report, Matkivski told them he had been driving along Route 59 and had turned eastbound along West Bartlett Road just before the crash, which occurred about 3:50 p.m.
As that road turned into Railroad Avenue in downtown Bartlett, Matkivski apparently decided he needed to go in the opposite direction. He told police he turned left (northbound) onto Oak Avenue, crossed the Metra tracks, then immediately turned left (westbound) onto Bartlett Avenue. Finally, he made a third left turn to go southbound on Western Avenue and recrossed the tracks.
The truck driver apparently was waiting there for traffic to clear so he could turn back onto Railroad Avenue when a seven-car commuter train bound from Elgin to Chicago crashed into the back section of his truck. The crash destroyed the truck and the four autos onboard and derailed the first car of the train, which included an engineer’s cab.
Matkivski and two passengers on the train were treated for minor injuries at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates.
“There was no indication that any of our equipment was malfunctioning,” including the gates and flashing lights on the Western Avenue crossing, Reile said. “At the Western Avenue crossing, there are signs saying ‘do not stop on the tracks’ and warning that there is only 22 feet between the tracks and a stop sign ahead.”
Reile said it is unclear how fast the train was going when it hit the truck. She said the train was probably beginning to slow for its stop at the Bartlett station just two blocks ahead, and when the engineer saw the truck in his path, he threw the controls into “emergency stop,” she said.
The crash caused major delays that day and evening along Metra’s Milwaukee District West Line, and also prompted an apology from the agency Wednesday to commuters.
“As with most events of this nature, we operated as best we could given the uncertainty involved with not knowing when the tracks would reopen, and we tried to supply riders with information that kept up with the rapidly changing developments. We regret the disruption to your commute,” said a statement from Don Orseno, interim executive director of Metra.