Weather Updates

Police release 911 tape of deadly Northbrook train derailment


Crews on the scene of the train derailment at Willow and Shermer in Northbrook. | Al Podgorski~Sun-Times

911 calls reporting train derailment

more with your phone

Get a quick link to audio of the 911 calls from the derailment and train collapse. Just scan this image with your smart phone.

Article Extras
Story Image

Updated: August 14, 2012 6:31AM

Callers reported the July 4 deadly freight train derailment as dark, smoky and blocking the entire street on the border of Glenview and Northbrook.

The calls were part of a 911 tape released Thursday by the Glenview Police Department. The tape offers a glimpse of the chaotic scene just moments after the bridge at Willow and Shermer roads collapsed under the pressure of dozens of freight cars. In the incident, a Glenview couple was killed.

The first caller describes it as a car fire but soon realizes it is far more serious.

The man calls back nearly a minute later to provide the 911 operator with further details: “Yeah, a train derailed, and there’s a tremendous amount of black smoke. It’s blocked Shermer completely. It fell off the viaduct. It looks like the bridge collapsed or a train fell off the bridge.”

A woman on the call said it appeared the bridge had “melted or something.” The man says it looked like the bridge buckled due to the heat.

Burton and Zorine Lindner were crushed to death in the derailment after a rail bridge collapsed from the pressure of dozens of rail cars carrying coal. Their bodies were discovered a day after the derailment after crews found the car’s bumper in the wreckage.

The difficult cleanup process continued on Thursday. Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said crews are still working to remove rail cars from the pileup.

A final cause has not been determined. While federal inspections can take from three to nine months, Union Pacific will give its own ruling on the cause of the accident within weeks. But Union Pacific’s preliminary cause remains a track defect caused by the heat. The company says the heat caused the track to buckle, derailing the coal-carrying freight train and ultimately causing the bridge collapse.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed last week claims Union Pacific failed to properly maintain and inspect its track, leading to the derailment.

Meanwhile, Union Pacific officials will meet with Glenview and Northbrook officials to discuss the derailment on Monday night.

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.