Family of Bridge Collapse Victims Suing Union Pacific
Union Pacific officials say they were doing safety checks in Northbrook twice a day leading up to the train derailment.
Clean-up crews and freight service have been ordered to halt for 36 hours as experts hired by the Lindner family's attorneys investigate the site of Wednesday's bridge collapse.
"Union Pacific has already created a makeshift bridge and already has trains going over the spot which shows they are more interested in having their business carry on the day after this tragedy than they are allowing a real thorough investigation to determine why these two amazing lives were taken away from us," said attorney Michael LaMonica.
Erron Fisher and Michael LaMonica of Fisher & LaMonica, P.C. in Chicago appeared on behalf of the families of Glenview’s Burton Lindner, 69, and wife Zorine's, 70, whose bodies were found in the wreckage Thursday.
"We’re here to get some answers as to why something this tragic happened," LaMonica said. "We refuse to accept the fact that it was hot outside so a train can come flying off the tracks and kill somebody because that’s unacceptable."
Tom Lang, a spokesman for Union Pacific said the company was doing everything by the book.
“I want to express to the family and friends of the accident victims our deepest sympathies," Lang said. "We follow all the federal guidelines relative to safety. It’s in our best interest and our employees’ interest to run a safe operation. We don’t take risks.”
According to Lang, Union Pacific crews were inspecting the rails twice a day, every day during the heat wave. He could not say when the last inspection was done prior to the derailment. He confirmed that Union Pacific was still investigating the cause of the accident.
“It’s a lot investigation to still go on, so there’s not a definitive answer yet," Lang said. "We have what we think is the cause but it’s months out before we have a final evaluation of the cause.”
Fisher and LaMonica filed a court order this morning to stop clean up and freight service until their 36 hour investigation is complete. They have also filed a wrongful death suit against Union Pacific.
"So far it’s been Union Pacific that’s been doing the investigating," LaMonica said. "If we couldn’t trust them to keep their trains on the track, I’m not sure we should sit back and trust them to lead the investigation."
"The scene is totally destroyed, their trains are up and running, the very tracks that we wanted to have people look at are gone," Fisher added.
But Lang says Union Pacifc took "all the appropriate steps to preserve evidence related to the incident.”
Union Pacific plans to resume freight and clean up operations once the stop order is lifted at 11:00 p.m. Saturday.
“As soon as we believe it’s safe to run, and our experts have deemed it safe to run and the order is lifted we intend to run the freight," Lang said.
According to a joint statement released by The Villages of Glenview and Northbrook, a representative from the Federal Railroad Administration determined Friday afternoon that Union Pacific's temporary bridge is structurally sound.