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Prosecutors: Teen killed by train because dad drove around railroad gates

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

A South Side man was charged with reckless homicide and ordered held on $300,000 bail Tuesday, months after he drove his car around railroad crossing gates and was struck by a train — killing his teenage daughter who was a passenger, prosecutors said.

Terry Robertson, 48, who also goes by the name Terry Robinson, was initially charged with a traffic violation for the Dec. 30 crash at 97th Street and Eggleston.

His blood alcohol level was just under the legal limit at .071 and officers had noticed “blood shot, glassy eyes” and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath when they questioned him at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to a police report.

Patrice Robinson, 19, died less than an hour after the train slammed into her.

But the investigation continued and authorities approved the felony reckless homicide charge earlier this week, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Morgan Creppel said.

Robertson, of the 9200 block of South Yates, had been driving on a suspended license at the time of the crash, Creppel said.

Robinson was the front seat passenger when her father drove his 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix around the gate and attempted to drive on the railroad tracks, Creppel said.

The railroad crossing signals were activated and the crossing arms were down as the New York-bound train approached at 40 mph, Creppel said.

Robinson died of massive blunt force trauma to the head and body and hemorrhagic shock.

The girl’s mother, who declined to give her name, said Tuesday she believes Robertson was taking his daughter to her job as a cashier at the time of the accident. She said Robertson was also severely injured in the crash — injuries that have made it hard for him to speak clearly even now.

Robertson has more than two dozen traffic arrests over a 30-year period, according to court records, including driving on a suspended license in 2000.

Robertson was convicted in 1994 of delivery of a controlled substance and sentenced to 6 years in prison. In 2009, he received a five-year sentence for attempted burglary; he was on parole at the time of the crash.

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