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Taft High student killed by train

Updated: April 9, 2014 6:11AM

A 17-year-old Taft High School student on his way to class died Friday morning after being hit by a Metra train on the Northwest Side, fire officials said.

Officials said the teenager was wearing earphones and quite possibly did not hear the train, although a gate and warning bells are believed to have been working.

Identified as Erik Lucansky, of the 5500 block of North Parkside Avenue, the teenager was pronounced dead at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

The Northwest Side school was thrust into mourning over the loss of the Taft junior who had been a former member of the school’s cheerleading team.

“It is with heavy hearts that we must inform the Taft community of the passing of one of our students. Erik Lucansky was tragically struck by a train and killed while crossing the tracks at Bryn Mawr and Avondale on his way to school,” read a statement posted on Taft’s website.

“Grief counselors have been made available in the school and are currently meeting with students and staff. Please join us in offering Erik’s family our deepest sympathy in this time of sorrow,” the school said.

Many students and teachers remained in shock and tears throughout the day.

“It’s been a very difficult day, as you can imagine,” said Taft Coach Brett Nishibayashi. “He was a well-known kid throughout the school, and vibrant. He’d been a committed cheerleader.”

Lucansky was struck about 6:50 a.m. by Union Pacific Northwest Line train No. 605, near the Norwood Park station at 6088 N. Northwest Highway, according to Metra officials.

“He was walking west along Bryn Mawr Avenue and was crossing our tracks where they intersect with Bryn Mawr. Chicago Police reported to our police that he was wearing ear buds,” Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said. “Witnesses told our police that the grade crossing protections — bells and gates — were activated.”

Trains were stopped for about 45 minutes in the heart of rush hour, with delays ranging up to 55 minutes. Service resumed about 7:35 a.m.

Sophomore Yulissa Renteria, one of the teen’s best friends, could barely speak of it Friday night, welling up in tears, as her parents cried with her.

“She and Erik were part of a group of four kids that hung out together all the time,” the teen’s father, Carlos Renteria said. “Erik was a good kid. We saw him every day, just a nice kid, never in trouble. Yulissa is really struggling.”

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