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Rockford Families’ Train Settlement

October 26th, 2011 at 4:07 pm

On Friday, June 19, 2009, a train with 114 cars, including 74 tankers filled with ethanol, was traveling from Freeport, Illinois to Chicago. As it approached Rockford, Jose Tellez, his wife Zoila and their pregnant daughter were in the family car, stopped at a train crossing on the south side of the railroad tracks behind the lowered gates, waiting for the train to pass.

What happened while they were waiting was tragic.  Eighteen train cars carrying millions of gallons of ethanol derailed near the intersection where the Tellez family waited.  The derailed cars exploded in a fireball that engulfed the unsuspecting family.

All three members of the Tellez family sustained terrible burns as they tried to flee to safety.  Zoila was killed from the burns and the couple’s pregnant daughter, Adriana, lost her baby. Zoila Tellez is survived by her husband Jose; daughters Adriana, 19; Lisette, 17; Cristal, 14; and Elvira, 11.

The derailment was found to be caused by a washed-out portion of track. Before the derailment, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department had informed the Canadian National Railway that the dangerous condition existed.  Twenty minutes before the derailment, the Winnebago County 911 center had phoned the Canadian company at its headquarters in Montreal, Canada and warned officials that a portion of the track, which turned out to be near the derailment, had been washed out.

In documents and witness testimony, it was acknowledged that the engineer of the train had seen adverse conditions on the track ahead but instead of slowing down, the engineer actually sped the train up.  This was found to be a direct cause of the fiery crash.

Due to his negligence and the disregard shown by the Canadian National Railway the Tellez family experienced horrible losses.  The company has settled out of court to the sum of $13.75 million to Adriana Tellez and $22.5 million to Jose.  While these sums of money never replace losing a loved one to a terrible accident, they do help families deal with the burdens that these tragedies cause.  It is important to have an experienced and dedicated personal injury lawyer in your corner.

 

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