The Crash of 1999
What happened? How did it happen? The train called "The City of New Orleans" crashed on March 15th, 1999, at 9:40 p.m. about two hours south of Chicago, Illinois, near the town of Bourbonnais. Eleven of the 216 passengers on board were killed and 120 were injured.
The accident was caused when the driver of a tractor trailer rig tried to weave through crossing gates to beat the train and it was too late. The train could not stop and it hit the truck. This caused the train to go off the tracks (derail) and the engine car slammed into the sleeper car. Diesel fuel from the engine sparked an enormous fire in the sleeper car. All the passengers that were killed were riding in the sleeper car.
After the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) finished a complete crash investigation, the accident was found to be the truck driver's fault. The driver's name was John Stokes, a 58-year-old man who had numerous traffic violations, including three speeding tickets within that year. Stokes went to court and was found guilty of illegally going around the closed crossing gates, hoping that he wouldn't have to wait for the train.