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Metra conductor in critical condition after collision

UPDATED: 2:45 p.m. 5/13/2011

A Metra commuter train heading into Chicago collided with a semitrailer, killing the truck's driver and causing a minor derailment Friday morning.

Metra spokesman Tom Miller said the train's passengers were evacuated after the collision in Mount Prospect. He said he heard there was a fire near the train and that the driver of the semi-truck that was carrying concrete was killed. Witnesses told the Mount Prospect Police Department that the crossing gates were down and the warning lights were operating at the train crossing.

Jackie Kaufmann, the mother of WBEZ Web Editor Justin Kaufmann, said she was a passenger in the second car of the train that was hit.

“The train wobbled all over the place and we thought we might tip over or spin around and looked to the window and the window shot up in flames,” she said in a phone interview Friday.

Jackie Kaufmann said she saw flames outside one of the windows of her train car. A passenger in her car kicked out a window and she and other passengers in the car climbed through the window to escape the train.

She said she was not physically injured.

“It was pretty scary,” Jackie Kaufmann said. “People were very scared.”

The Mount Prospect police department wrote in a statement that 28 Metra passengers were hospitalized. The train conductor is in critical condition at an area hospital.

Miller, the Metra spokesman, said he expects service to the trains going through Mount Prospect will be affected the rest of the day. He said he expects buses to be available for passengers who need to connect from Des Plaines to Arlington Heights.

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