Woman's foot injured in train accident

Woman's foot injured in train accident

CHAMPAIGN — A 20-year-old University of Illinois student had her right foot severed in a freak accident early Saturday.

Champaign police Sgt. Dennis Baltzell said the woman and a 20-year-old man, also a UI student, were on a train spray-painting graffiti on a box car when the train moved just before 5 a.m.

They both tried to jump clear of the train but according to Baltzell, the woman didn't jump far enough away and the train ran over her foot.

Baltzell said he wasn't sure how long the pair had been on the train, which was on the tracks that generally run north and south through downtown Champaign and parallel Neil Street. He believed they jumped off around the Green Street viaduct,

"He ended up carrying her back to the parking lot of Boneyard Barbeque at 25 E. Springfield Ave. That's where the officers and paramedics responded," Baltzell said.

The woman was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital for surgery, where she was listed in fair condition.

Baltzell said she and the man listed home addresses in Chicago.

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CJ Williams wrote on May 05, 2012 at 6:05 pm

I will wait for her to sue the railroad for doing this to her.  They should have been charged with tresspassing to rr property.

Learning2B wrote on May 05, 2012 at 7:05 pm

Agreed, these two individuals committed a crime.  I suppose charges can still result from this incident.

However, I think losing a foot and, in this case, witnessing a friend lose her foot knowing you had a hand in it, is far worse than any amount of probation.

adams wrote on May 05, 2012 at 8:05 pm

First, my heart goes out to the young woman. I pray that she make a quick recovery, that she regain all or most of the use of her foot, and that somehow a blessing comes from this terrible event.

But I must take exception to the reporter's use of the term freak accident. A freak accident is one which could not have been anticipated or predicted. This tragic accident is the all-too-common consequence of playing near trains. I can remember being taught as a child that getting caught under a train is the expected outcome of this sort of activity.

This tragedy was, sadly, predictable and preventable. It was hardly a freak accident.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on May 05, 2012 at 11:05 pm
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The headline's phrasing leaves something to be desired as well. Assuming the story was worded correctly, the foot wasn't "injured" so much as removed.

IC6071 wrote on May 05, 2012 at 11:05 pm

I have little sympathy here.

I have worked on trains for the past 5 years, and they're not to be messed with. Regardless of what this era of so-called modern art tells you...graffiti, when done without permission on private property is vandalism and is punishable thereof. Boxcars, locomotives, tank cars, autoracks, intermodal cars, you name it, we own it. If we wanted graffiti on it, the cars wouldn't be painted in the first place. Its a pain for anyone who works as a conductor. Why? Because these cars car data marks, such as capacity, load limit and the car number. When that stuff is painted over, and crews can not see them, it causes a problem and delays the process of getting that car clearance to move on its train. Yes, graffiti is very interesting. That doesn't change the point, its private railroad property, stay off of it. The newer locomotive we run, by itself, weigh 432,000 pounds. That's just one locomotive. The cars weigh anywhere from 50 to 120 tons each. A train can move at anytime, as this girl learned. They don't stop fast, and they're miles long. Especially on the CN through C-Paign. CN runs most manifest freight trains on that line at 10,000 - 14,000 feet long. There is no way a crew will see you back there dangling off the cars with a bleeding foot. If any of you are old enough to remember this, there was a case back in the 70's or 80's when a guy, university student, shortcutted between train cars at this same location. The train moved, his arm was caught in the handrail and that train drug him from Green Street to Tuscola. My grandfather did the honors of walking the IC tracks to try and find a ID, with body parts strewn for miles. He wasn't tagging the train, because we didn't have much of that back then, but he was still on it and was trespassing. Consider these people lucky that they didn't meet the same fate. And if after this, either one is still stupid enough to tag rail cars, they have my pity. See, a train jolts, because the air in the brakes releases one car at a time. So by the time you get to, let's say car #105 on the train, the engines are cranked up pretty good, and when those brake shoes come off that car, its going to jerk ahead pretty hard. Message to parents here, most taggers are between the ages of 12, yes 12, and 25. I highly encourage you to teach them to keep their art off the trains. Because not every railroad police officer is nice about it, and no train will stop for them. Graffiti may be pop culture or whatever, but railroading is a dangerous, dangerous industry. I almost fell off one while working on it, and it changed my outlook on life. Don't find yourself strewn down the tracks like that guy in the 70's did.


Stay safe.

rsp wrote on May 06, 2012 at 12:05 am

I agree with everything you've said. I have an issue with the trains blocking the tracks on Bradley for long periods and then you see kids going under or over the stopped trains. There are legal limits to how long  they can sit and block the tracks. They break them all the time. Then you see little kids crawling under and an Amtrak coming down the line and they can't see it. But it's "that side of town". The police and ambulances just go around. And look the other way.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on May 06, 2012 at 1:05 am
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I might agree with everything he said, but I couldn't read it.


I recommend paragraphs.

787 wrote on May 06, 2012 at 2:05 pm

Don't be so uppity.  It is *your* loss for refusing to read it.

rsp wrote on May 06, 2012 at 5:05 pm

I hate to tell you this but my 3 1/2 year old grandson read it just fine. 

peabody wrote on May 07, 2012 at 9:05 am

You let your 3 1/2 year old grandson read a comment about a guy getting dragged from Green Street to Tuscola and trying to clean up his body parts?

rsp wrote on May 07, 2012 at 3:05 pm

He didn't read the details. He has a bad habit of reading over people's shoulders. 

IC6071 wrote on May 06, 2012 at 1:05 am

Yes, Bradley has been a problem for several years now. When Illinois Central put that yard in, Bradley was a mere country road, well, time passed and now its developed. So...when the trains are waiting to get into the yard, they end up blocking it. An under or overpass is sorely needed there. It doesn't help that Canadian National upped the train length to the 10,000 and 14,000 foot lengths. IC usually ran at 6,500ft maximum. The extra train length stretches it out too far.

I'm very aware of the way people, namely kids tend to duck under trains that are parked. Impatience gets the best of people.

I also see where you're coming from on the issue of seeing people run in front of Amtrak. Amtrak does 79 miles per hour north and south of C-Paign, and I've seen where people have been hit at that speed. That's why we have flashing ditchlights, the bottom two lights, on the engines now. Well, at least some railroads do. Amtrak, Norfolk Southern, CSX Transportation have the flashers. They are designed so that your eye can better judge the speed it is approaching. Naturally, one's reflexes respond to the way each flash is closer, and how fast. They activate when the horn is sounded and continue to flash for 30 seconds. Amtrak has it setup so they flash when the bell is activated.

Awareness is the best thing! Parents should always teach their kids to never race a train, never walk between cars or under them, and as said before, never try and decorate them. Walking on tracks is dangerous too. There was an accident in Indy a few months ago where a kid was walking down the tracks with an iPod playing, he never heard the CSX train behind him.


Again, Stay Safe Everyone!


p.s thanks for the grammar correction Rob, I apologize. I know better than to write like that.

WTPayne wrote on May 06, 2012 at 3:05 pm

This was "while in the commission of a crime, her foot was severed" not a "freak accident."  A train on its tracks are intended to move.

serf wrote on May 07, 2012 at 8:05 am

Thanks for the interesting info about trains.  It's one of those things that you see nearly every day, but don't really appreciate all of the intricacies of how they actually function.

peabody wrote on May 07, 2012 at 9:05 am

Please spare us the train lectures. Nobody is faulting the train for what happened. Some of us however have a little sympathy for victim regardless. She was a trespasser, not a terrorist. Showing a little sympathy doesn't diminish the awesome glory of trains, don't worry.

IC6071 wrote on May 08, 2012 at 11:05 am


I find your rude tone quite un-needed. If you do not want to read my comments, don't read them. I never accused anyone of being too sympathetic to her, I simply stated I myself am not.  You can keep your smart remarks about "the awesome glory of trains". Do not patronize me like a child, thank you. I did not attack anyone here, therefore I'd thank you to keep any further rude comments to yourself.


You're welcome. In situations like these, people have a tendency to pay more attention to the true facts surrounding just how dangerous playing around trains really is.



rsp wrote on May 08, 2012 at 1:05 pm

At 10:00 this morning the tracks were blocked on Bradley Ave. At one point a second train blocked the tracks to keep the guardrails down as the first train cleared the tracks but then it came back. After well over half an hour a call was placed to metcad who refused to respond. They did offer to call the train dispatch though. After another five minutes or so, with vehicles lined up in both directions, they finally lifted the gates to let traffic clear, with an Amtrak train just around the corner. Just about five vehicles went had through when a truck was hit by the guardrail. With the noise from the trains you couldn't hear the warnings for Amtrak. If someone had stopped to turn onto Oak St. as frequently happens then the tracks would have been blocked with trucks. The really sad thing is they had a spotter watching. It was clear that traffic couldn't beat the Amtrak. 

The trains don't respect the public and the public don't respect the trains. We are so divorced from our history and our communities that we are all connected. 

IC6071 wrote on May 08, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I couldn't agree more with your last statement RSP.

I personally believe the City of Champaign and CN/IC need to spilt the cost of building an over or underpass there.

Its nearly impossible though. Looking at the crossing from above on Google Maps, there' not many solutions there that wouldn't mean tearing some stuff down.


peabody wrote on May 09, 2012 at 9:05 am

IC6071, Sorry that you're offended by my tone but when you make a cold statement like that in a public forum you should expect someone to object. I find your statement that you have little sympathy heartless and quite un-needed. Your initial post would have been fine if not for that first line. There is this attitude held by SOME people that even though trains travel through the center of heavily populated areas, anyone who gets caught in the gears is unworthy of any sympathy or respect. And by the way, I know a retired train operator who is still devastated by the fact that his train killed a child back in the 1980s, and even though there was nothing he could have done to prevent it, he still wonders if there was. So I know that not everyone in the industry feels that way and I suspect you wouldn't either, if you had the misfortune of operating a train that hurt somebody.

rsp wrote on May 09, 2012 at 12:05 pm

There is a big difference between an accident and an intentional act. Anyone would wonder if there was more they could have done to prevent the death of a child. Nobody is suggesting that we celebrate her injury. We just expect the two of them to be adults and accept responsibility for being stupid and causing it. 

MB2 wrote on May 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Who says they aren't accepting responsibility? I'm not sure if you're suggesting they aren't or if you're just saying that it's expected that they should. Regardless, I think the fact that the man carried the woman down to seek help is the most reponsible thing he could have done at that point in time. They made a stupid mistake, yes, but these two are young. Who can honestly say that you or a friend isn't guilty of doing something that put you or someone else at risk because of naivete. It's tragic that their mistake ended with a serious injury. My heart goes out to both of them, especially the girl.

mspontiac wrote on May 08, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Thank you for the advice and info regarding trains, IC6071. I found it very interesting.

I also have no sympathy for the trespasser. Anyone with half a brain knows how dangerous trains can be.

Tonymw62 wrote on May 09, 2012 at 7:05 am

I see it as "Natural Selection". We can't live forever. I'm 50 and believe me, there have been many "Deaths by Misadventure". 



sahuoy wrote on May 09, 2012 at 8:05 am

These two kids received far worse a sentence than their crime. It is a very unfortunate mishap for both forever changing their lives. Emphasizing justice deserved over such a trivial but life threatening act is completely out of protocol if those above have any self respect or human compassion. Integrity is what you do when no one is looking and just plain stupidity when they are. Much like the teapot calling the kettle black.

Seek out the good that will come with this change in your life, the changes and opportunities it brings in your travels God Bless and get well soon. Keep smiling ;D