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Blue Line passenger: After a ‘boom’ bodies went flying

DiStokes 21 from West Side leaves Swedish Covenant Hospital Monday morning. He sprained his ankle
Monday's derailment. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

Dion Stokes, 21, from the West Side, leaves Swedish Covenant Hospital Monday morning. He sprained his ankle in Monday's derailment. | Stefano Esposito/Sun-Times

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Updated: April 26, 2014 6:25AM

At momentum’s mercy, passengers tumbled and screamed as their train plowed past the Blue Line terminus at O’Hare International Airport and rumbled up an escalator.

Dion Stokes, 21, was standing during the collision — about to step off the train to meet his girlfriend who’d finished her shift at an airport McDonald’s.

After a “boom,” bodies went flying and the lights went dark, he said.

“I could see one guy on the floor being thrown back and forth,” said Stokes, who himself suffered a badly twisted ankle.

“This is like stuff you only see on TV,” he said.

James Winfield, 60, his head against a window of one of the center cars, was dozing when the sound of crunching metal snapped him awake.

“I heard a loud noise and a jolt. . . . People were hollering,” he said. “People were scrambling, trying to get off the train.”

Winfield remained calm as panic took hold. “I was very relaxed . . . I thank God,” he said.

Winfield, who suffered a minor back injury, was treated with some ibuprofen at Swedish Covenant Hospital, one of three hospitals that treated 32 people with non-life threatening injuries after the crash. “The good Lord took care of everything.”

Passengers were thankful the outcome wasn’t worse.

“I’m just glad. . . . Nobody was killed,” said Stokes, as he leaned on newly issued crutches and enjoyed a smoke outside Swedish Covenant.

After the crash, visitors to O’Hare were treated to a scene straight out of a movie set. Anyone walking by early Monday morning could see the front of the train peeking out over the escalator. Several people — many with suitcases in tow — stopped to take pictures of the train. Some even took “selfies.”

“That was, like, the show of the day,” said Reginald Conyers, a street musician whose trumpet concerto had to compete with the derailed train for attention Monday morning.

“If I got that attention I would be paid and I would go home early,” Conyers said.

Passersby were kept at a distance, though, with caution tape and a closed grate at the entrance to the station. Eventually, workers also hung a tarp to block the view of the train. All of this confused and frustrated others who simply wanted to reach their destination and weren’t sure how to get downtown.

CTA personnel were on hand to guide those passengers to a nearby shuttle bus.

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