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Mom in van tries to outrun train. Train wins

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Published on Sep 7, 2007

(Note: the mom died four days later). Surveillance video shows a Hammond, Indiana woman racing a freight train to an intersection Saturday morning before two trains hit her minivan and killed two of her children.

"It seemed that she (Edie Bolanos) was so intent on beating the eastbound train, she never even saw the westbound train that hit her," Hammond police Sgt. Michael Jorden said.

Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller sees a lesson in the tragedy.

"My heart goes out to the family," Miller said. "My only hope with the release of this is that other people will learn a lesson, and maybe we can avoid another tragedy in the future."

Video from Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District cameras shows that in a 65-second span, Edie Bolanos tried to beat an eastbound freight train by turning into a parking lot, racing east to overtake the train, and then making a hairpin turn to continue south on Johnson Avenue across the tracks.

The video shows the van does not appear to slow down as it approaches the tracks.

The van was violently struck on the driver's side by a train heading west, which pushed the van into the eastbound train in the span of a second at 9:49 a.m. Saturday, the time-stamped video shows.

Bolanos remained in critical condition at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago on Wednesday. Two of her children -- Crystal, 11, and Anahi, 8 -- were ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. Her other two children who were in the van were in stable condition Wednesday at another Chicago hospital.

Hammond police still are investigating the crash, relying partly on surveillance videos shot by NICTD cameras. NICTD owns the parking lot that Bolanos tried to cut through to beat the train, police said.

Bolanos lives several blocks northwest of the crash site and was heading south on Hohman Avenue at 9:48 a.m. Saturday when the eastbound train crossed Hohman and blocked it, the video shows.

The train blocked Hohman at 9:48:34, yet Bolanos did not even turn into the commuter train parking lot that parallels the freight train tracks for another 13 seconds.

In the NICTD parking lot, she zoomed east and overtook the train at 9:48:56.

At 9:49:01, a NICTD camera facing west captured images of both trains coming into view. Bolanos' van just began turning left toward the parking lot's eastern exit onto Johnson.

Four seconds later, the van pulled onto Johnson without stopping and drove toward the crossing -- the exact point that two trains heading in opposite directions were steaming forward.

At 9:49:11, the van pulled into the crossing and was struck in its rear half, slowing the van's forward progress just long enough for the other train to smash into it.

The timeline

-- 9:48:34: Eastbound train blocks Hohman Avenue, yet minivan driver Edie Bolanos has yet to turn into the commuter train parking lot that parallels the freight train tracks for another 13 seconds.

-- 9:48:56: Bolanos zooms east and overtakes the train.

-- 9:49:01: A camera facing west captures images of both trains coming into view. Bolanos' van has just begun turning left toward the parking lot's eastern exit onto Johnson Street.

-- 9:49:05: The minivan pulls onto Johnson without stopping and drives toward the crossing. The two trains heading in opposite directions are steaming forward.

-- 9:49:11: The van pulls into the crossing and is struck toward the rear, slowing its forward progress just long enough for the other train to smash into it.

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