A Skokie woman was killed and at least five CTA passengers were transported to area hospitals Monday morning after a CTA train struck a car on the Yellow Line, Skokie Police said.
The woman, identified as Blandina Hermez of the 4100 block of Oakton, was in the car at the time of the crash. She was taken to an Evanston Hospital where she was pronounced dead, police said. The driver of the vehicle, a 45-year-old woman from Skokie, was transported to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston for injuries and remained in critical condition as of Monday afternoon.
Five people on the train were taken to area hospitals with non-life threatening injuries.
CTA spokesman Jeff Tolman said the preliminary details show the vehicle drove through a grade crossing at about 10:21 a.m. on East Prairie Road and collided with a train.
"It appears the car went around the gate and was hit by the CTA Skokie swift train," said Fire Chief Jim Walters.
Family members said Hermez, who works at a nearby Walmart, was in the car with her 45-year-old sister-in-law when were hit by the train.
"Right now we are shocked, we need time to put everything together," said her brother-in-law Matt Hanero. "It's a big tragedy for us."
The store manager at the store where Hermez worked as an overnight associate for several years said she was "a wonderful associate."
"We are deeply saddened to hear of her passing," Paul Ayala said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with her family and friends during this time."
Sky 5 footage of the scene showed the vehicle severely damaged.
Sabah Adil, a DePaul student headed to class, said there was "a sudden jerk" and "a very loud noise" when the train and vehicle collided.
"I'm still shaking," Adil said. "I felt like it was my last minute and I would not see my family again."
"I was headed to DePaul. My class was at 11:10." Adil said. "I got in at Dempster. I was on the phone with my friend and she heard me scream on the phone."
Yellow Line service was temporarily suspended and commuters were advised to use the No. 97 Skokie bus and shuttle buses as an alternative. Service resumed shortly after 5 p.m.
Police said it's not known whether drugs or alcohol were a contributing factor in the crash.
The investigation is ongoing, police said, and the North Regional Major Crime Task Force Major Crash Assistance Team is assisting the Skokie Police Department.
Anyone who witnessed the crash or has information about it should contact Skokie Police at 847-982-5900 or via the automated Crime Tip Hotline at 847-933-TIPS (8477).