Fortune smiles as woman escapes collision with train

by Lynn Meredith

A woman and her dog narrowly escaped a collision with a Union Pacific train when her car slid to a stop on the railroad tracks at the Meredith Road railroad crossing near Route 38 on Friday. Her red Pontiac Grand Am was struck by the train and carried along until the train could stop. Fortunately, Julie Nortman and her Belgian Schiekeepe got out of the car in time.

Nortman, of Aurora, was headed north on Meredith Road. She described the roads as snow packed and icy.

“I saw the crossing guards come down and the lights come on,” Nortman said. “I wasn’t going to crash into them, so I turned the car to the left toward the ditch. But with all the snow, I slid onto the tracks.”

As she tried to go forward and then back to free the right side of her car that was stuck on the tracks, she could hear the train blowing its horn.

“I thought about staying in the car, and I thought about getting out. Then something told me to get out,” Nortman said. “I undid my seat belt and jumped out and got my dog out. Actually, he jumped out on his own. It was fortunate because I might not have gotten him out in time.”

Nortman had the wherewithal to grab his leash so that he wouldn’t run onto the tracks of the approaching train.

The crash occurred at 9:15 a.m. The train was a local freight train serving businesses between West Chicago and Troy Grove in La Salle County. The accident closed the railroad line until 11:50 a.m., when the vehicle was removed from the track, according to Mark Davis of Union Pacific Railroad.

“She was very fortunate to be able to get out,” Lt. Pat Gengler of the Kane County Sheriff’s Department said.

No ticket was issued.

As for Nortman, she said that thinking about the incident still bothers her. She avoids the Meredith Road crossing and sticks to Route 47 on her daily route.

“I won’t travel on Meredith Road anymore this winter,” she said. “Now I go on (Route) 47, but there’s still tracks there. I have a paranoia that possibly a train is coming.”

Nortman may have lost her car in the crash, but she and her dog are safe.

“At first I was sad because of my car. Then I thanked God that it was not me in there and not my dog in there,” Norman said.