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2 Adults, 5-Year-Old Girl Dead When Metra Train Hits Vehicle On Far South Side

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Three people are dead, including a 5-year-old, after a vehicle came into the path of a Metra train on the city's Far South Side Sunday afternoon.

Metra said Rock Island District Train No. 122 was headed to Joliet from Chicago when it was involved in a collision with a car at 103rd Street and Vincennes Avenue, on the cusp of East Beverly and Washington Heights, at 5 p.m.

As CBS 2's Steven Graves reported, Metra said it thinks the train was going almost 80 mph when it hit that vehicle. As of 10:10 p.m., crews had just left the scene, towing the front car up just to get the vehicle out from underneath it.

The impact was so hard that the front railcar was lodged off the tracks.

"We heard a boom and then we saw smoke," said Greg Smalls, who was on the Metra train at the time, "and then you put two and two together, and pretty much, you knew."

Smalls said he was in the third rail car of the train during the collision.

"The people in the first two cars saw it, and they just started heading toward the back," he said, "and they loaded us all out of the back of the train."

A total of 41 passengers were offloaded. Three of them had minor injuries.

The conductor for the train hurt his leg.

"Before we heard the boom, we heard the motorman trying his hardest to blow the horn to get the people who were trying to cross the tracks out of the way," Smalls said.

The vehicle was so smashed up and twisted that it was tough to tell if it was a regular car or a sport-utility vehicle.

The three people in the vehicle died – including a child. The 5-year-old killed was identified as Essence Ransberry.

"It's heart-rendering It's gut-wrenching," said Metra spokesman Michael Gillis. "It's the worst thing I've seen. I've been doing this job for 12 years."

Metra said the vehicle entered the tracks at 107th Street and Vincennes Avenue. It was dragged about half a mile to 103rd Street.

Investigators late Sunday were trying to figure out if the driver of the vehicle ignored the stop arms.

"There's no indication the gates were malfunctioning," Gillis said.

The was the second fatal train crash this weekend alone.

In East Chicago, Indiana, investigators said the driver of a Honda Odyssey minivan ignored train crossing signals just before 1 a.m. Saturday and tried to drive around the crossing arm. The minivan was hit by the CSX freight train.

Two adults - 36-year-old Pedro Trinidad and 38-year-old Flor Carillo - and a 5-year-old Evelyn Trinidad, were killed in the crash.

Three other young boys between the ages of 7 and 10 were treated by officers on scene and taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Metra said there is dashcam video of the latest incident on Sunday. They are downloading it to figure out what happened.

The National Transportation Safety Board told CBS 2 it has been notified of the incident and will open an investigation if warranted.

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