Chicago Loop Derailment
AT LEAST 12 persons were killed and more than 180 injured Friday as four cars of a Chicago Transit Authority train toppled frown elevated tracks in the Loop and plunged to the street during the evening rush hour.
The dead and injured included pedestrians who were crushed beneath cars that slammed to the pavement at Lake Street and Wabash Avenue.
"I saw a couple of people who were underneath the car trying to run, but they didn't make it," said Renel Conner, 25, an attendant at a nearby parking garage.
The crash was the worst ever involving CTA rapid transit trains.
THE PLUNGE OF A CTA train from the tracks at Lake Street and Wabash Avenue in Friday evening's rush hour was the second major accident involving the city's rapid-transit lines in 13 months.
On Jan. 9, 1976, also during rush hour a train crashed into the rear of another at the Addison Street station of the Jefferson Park line. Two passengers were killed and 310 hurt in the accident.
Major accidents have plagued the elevated lines since they began operating shortly after the World's Columbian Exposition here in 1893.
A CTA spokesman said Friday, however, that there have been only six derailments in the elevated lines' history in which cars fell to the ground. And in most cased he said they involved only one or two cars. Two occurred in 1896 and another in 1908.
BUSINESSES in the area of the elevated train crash at Wabash Avenue and Lake Street were turned into blood-spatterd infirmaries as shop owners and patrons rushed into the street to aid victims.
Patrons of the Lakeview Restaurant, 181 N. Wabash Av., watched in horror as "L" cars fell onto the sidewalk.
Agnes McCormick, 19, of 6410 N. Long Av., a secretary with the Chicago Public Library, said she was having an early diner and was near the window when the crash occurred.
She saw a car tumble from the "L" structure. "My God," I thought, "the car was going to come through the window," she said.
She and other patrons hurried outside and found a scene of carnage.
"The victims were lying in rows in the street, and some were pinned in the car," Mrs. McCormick said. "Some of them were obviously dead. I saw one blonde girl, about 20, lying in a pool of blood, and there was nothing we could do for her."