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This weekend marks 40-year anniversary of rail crash

Saturday, Feb. 4, marks the somber 40-year anniversary of one of the most serious mass transit accidents in Chicago's history. That was the day that the Chicago Transit Authority had two of its elevated trains collide at the Loop in a turn.

Two of the cars crashed down from the elevated tracks upon impact. There were 11 fatalities and over 180 people were hurt in the rail disaster.

The deadly accident occurred in 1977 just when Chicago's rush hour was at its peak, 5:25 p.m., and happened where Wasbash and Lake intersect.

According to its final report on the tragedy, the National Transportation Safety Board determined that the man at the helm of the Lake-Dan Ryan train bore responsibility for the accident. Reports in the Tribune indicate that the 34-year-old CTA driver of eight years "failed to heed a red signal" and drove the train "at too high a speed," causing the collision.

The train slammed into the rear of a Ravenswood train. Four of the cars on the Lake-Dan Ryan train fell off the tracks where it turns. Of the four, two smashed to the ground below, leaving the other two dangling precariously.

The director of curatorial affairs at the Chicago History Museum claims that the horrific accident was the impetus for the CTA's implementation of "very specific safety measures," which included:

-- Installation of barrier girders for the four sharpest curves on the rails

-- Requiring all train operators to obtain the control center's okay before bypassing a red light "on sight"

-- Retraining those operators who had been issued citations for moving violations

Chicagoans depend upon the public transit system to get to work and around the city. While it's a safe system for the most part, when accidents occur, those who get injured can pursue financial compensation from those deemed responsible for their injuries or damages.

Source: DNA Info, "40 Years Ago, 'L' Trains Crashed To The Ground In The Loop," Justin Breen, Feb. 01, 2017

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