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Breaking News

Semi collides with train near Laraway Elementary School in Joliet

JOLIET — A semitrailer and Amtrak passenger train collided Friday along Laraway Road just west of Route 53 near Laraway Elementary School in Joliet.

Debris from the semitrailer could be seen sitting between the tracks south of Laraway Road. Joliet Fire Capt. Bob Wohlrab said the collision happened at 10:29 a.m. when a train en route from Chicago to Springfield struck and twisted the trailer.

"There were quite a few people on the train, but no serious injuries," Wohlrab said. "Though some passengers had minor complaints, everyone declined to be transported to the hospital."

Joliet Deputy Police Chief Ed Gregory said the westbound truck had gone around the stop arms at the crossing when it was struck by the train.

"Witnesses said the gates had been down for an extended period of time and four trucks had already gone around, but the fifth one did not clear the tracks," Gregory said.

Amtrak personnel told police the train had just passed through a restricted zone and it was not known how fast the train was going in the crossing zone, which typically has a 55 to 79 mph limit.

Debris from the incident was strewn about near the southwest corner of the Laraway Elementary School property, Laraway School District 70C Superintendent Joe Salmieri said.

Salmieri was on scene soon after the collision occurred. He said the sound of the collision could be heard inside the school.

“It scared everybody,” he said.

“This is, quite frankly, the nightmare that we had feared,” Salmieri said. “I hope it gives the attention to the problem we have here. This is a major reason why we have to relocate. We want the safety of our kids back.”

Deputy Fire Chief Ray Randich said the trailer contained John Deere riding lawnmowers and "Gator"-type vehicles.

Cedric Randle, 37, of Chicago, was ticketed for violating the stop arm, improper lane use and driving without insurance, Gregory said. Randle was driving for the HUB Group, according to police reports.

Laraway Road remained closed as of 2 p.m. Friday afternoon and police arranged an alternate route for school pickups.

• The Herald-News reporter Lauren Leone-Cross and photographer Lathan Goumas contributed to this report.

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