By Peter Nickeas, Chicago Tribune
CHICAGO — A brother and sister in their 50s were struck and killed by a commuter train as they took a well-worn shortcut over the tracks through weeds and trees in Chicago, according to officials and family.
Relatives believe Margaret Huddleston, 54, may have been trying to get her brother Berry Huddleston, 57, off the tracks when they were both hit around 4:50 p.m. Thursday. They said Berry had lost most of his vision and was often helped around by Margaret.
Gloria Huddleston, sibling to the two victims killed by the Metra train, says she believes her sister died while trying to save her brother.
“He can’t really see. . . . It must have been she seen him about to get hit by the train, so she jumped in, but it was too late,” said LaTanya Huddleston, Margaret’s daughter. “We know her. We know she jumped in to try to save him and herself. We know how that went.”
She said everyone in the neighborhood uses the shortcut and that Metra trains regularly blow their horns to warn those crossing.
“Trains blow horns to state that they see you,” Huddleston said. “The train wouldn’t be that close to you and they’d still let you know. They know people cross all the time.
“It even be little kids up there,” she said. “You try to keep the kids off but you can’t, it’s a shortcut to get on the other side. It’s fast. Up and over.”
The tracks run on top of an embankment where the two were hit, with bridges and viaducts over every street in the area. There is no pedestrian walkway or crossing nearby, according to Metra spokesman Michael Gillis.
The accident held up trains on the Burlington Northern and Sante Fe line for hours, with some minor delays still reported early Friday morning.
Margaret’s husband, Larry Jackson, knelt and cried as crews covered the bodies in blue tarp and investigated the scene.
“I was praying to God it wasn’t them. I don’t even know how to hold myself up,” he said. “They’re already together. They’re real close.”
LaTanya Huddleston said her mother had eight children and more than 30 grandchildren.
“She was always with the grandkids, or going to the store for them. She was always out there,” Huddleston said. “Riding bikes, everything. She just did it all. She was a caretaker for my grandmother. She would massage her feet . . . wash her hair, perm it. You can’t describe all the stuff she did. She did a lot for one person. And she was a small woman. She had a big heart.”
Her uncle Berry “was great,” she said. “Singing around the house, stuff like that. He was outgoing. The blindness was getting him down. He was suffering from glaucoma.”
Huddleston said her grandmother was “devastated” by the deaths.
“But you know, you’ve got to move on from these events,” Huddleston said. “You can’t kill yourself over it. You just have to move on from the event and be strong for the rest of the family and the other kids, the grandkids.”
Photo via WikiCommons
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