Island Lake man, girl killed when Metra train hits vehicle in Round Lake Park
By Frank Abderholden firstname.lastname@example.org January 23, 2014 11:14AM
Major Case Assistance Team officers work on the investigation of a double fatal accident in Round Lake Park Wednesday, where a father and daughter died after their vehicle was struck by a Metra train. | Joe Shuman/For Sun-Times Media
Car vs. train collisions
The Illinois Commerce Commission’s Operation Lifesaver reports that car and train collisions have dropped a lot. In 1976 There were over 800 railroad incidents at public grade crossings and 96 people were killed. In 2012, the latest statistics available, totals were down to 89 and 25 people killed.
Illinois ranked third in the top states with crashes at crossings with 108, two more than fourth place Indiana. Texas had the most with 227 followed by California at 121.
Updated: February 25, 2014 6:20AM
Investigators are saying that an Island Lake man’s vehicle crashed through the two railroad gates that were lowered in Round Lake Park Wednesday evening that killed him and his 7-year-old daughter, who was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle.
On Thursday afternoon, Lake County Coroner Dr. Thomas Rudd said alcohol was detected during the autopsy of the father, Fancisco Carranza, 36, but the Lake County State’s Attorney told him not to release the estimated amount of alcohol in his system. Both victims died of multiple trauma. The autopsy determined that the young girl, Alyssa Carranza, did not hit a pole when she was ejected from the vehicle, as previously reported, because she did not have the injuries that would have been associated with that, said Rudd.
She attended first grade at Round Lake Community Unit School District 116, but transferred to Saint Joseph School in Round Lake at the beginning of this school year as a second-grader. Her mother resides in Round Lake. Carranza lived with his father in Island Lake.
Tammy Kleckner, principal at Saint Joseph School described the girl as becoming “a ray of sunshine.”
“We definitely want to express our sorrow to the family,” she said, adding that the young girl also enjoyed competitive cheerleading outside of school.
Kleckner said the school is tapping into parish staff and outside professional aid “to help our students and staff deal with this tragic news,” she said.
Superintendent Constance Collins of School District 116 said they were saddened by the news as well.
“Alyssa was a vibrant child with great enthusiasm for learning and will be missed greatly. We send her family our deepest condolences,” she said.
Round Lake Park Police Chief George Filenko said investigators are looking at a private security film of the incident and the Metra train’s onboard camera as his department works with the Lake County Crash Assistance Team. But he said witnesses at the scene said the vehicle crashed through the two lowered gates and was struck by the train, causing the Range Rover to slide and hit another vehicle with several people inside. No one was injured in that vehicle.
Originally, police thought there was just one death at the scene, but investigators from the crash assistance team were using a laser for their forensic measurements when they found the body of the 7-year-old girl about 50 feet from where the vehicle ended up in a ditch.
Filenko said the preliminary investigation indicates the young girl was not wearing a seat belt. He also said he could not speculate at this time why Carranza’s Range Rover crossed through the lowered gates.
“I can’t speculate on why,” he said. “We can’t speculate on what caused it other than he crashed through both gates. There could be a lot of reasons,” he said, such as spilling something inside the car, distracting the driver enough that he didn’t see the gates coming down.
The Metra engine hit the vehicle directly just before 6 p.m. on Route 134 and Porter Drive. Filenko said there was about $200,000 worth of damage to the train engine because it hit the vehicle directly.
Metra spokesman Tom Miller said that car and train collisions are rare, especially since new railroad and street intersections now have raised mediums and small poles making it very difficult for someone to try and drive around lowered gates.
Miller said over 90 percent of train incidents involve pedestrians. “We don’t get a lot of car vs. trains,” he said.