Mokena teen killed in Metra crash was ‘a real special young girl’
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org June 14, 2012 10:38AM
A Mokena teenager was killed Wednesday night when her car was struck by a Metra train on 191st Street, west of LaGrange Road. | Larry Ruehl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 16, 2012 6:23AM
There was disbelief among her former Lincoln-Way East High School classmates, at least judging by Facebook posts.
And there will be a void going forward, according to her employer.
Samira Baker, a Mokena teenager who graduated from high school just last week, was killed Wednesday night when her car was struck by a Metra train on 191st Street, a few blocks west of LaGrange Road in Mokena.
Baker was alone in the car, which was inside the gates as the train approached, according to officials, who are “puzzled” as to why the car rolled forward into the train’s path.
“She was a real special young girl, a beautiful girl and a great employee,” said Jack Rush, a district manager at Culver’s restaurant, where Baker worked.
Baker, 19, was planning to go to college, he said. Instead, her funeral services were held Thursday.
The accident occurred about 9:45 p.m., officials said. Baker, of the 19200 block of Thornham Drive, was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:05 a.m., according to the Will County Coroner’s office.
A preliminary examination indicated she died of multiple injuries due to the collision, but the cause and manner of death are pending an autopsy, toxicology and police reports, the coroner’s office said.
Baker, driving a 1999 Nissan Altima, was inside the gates as the train approached on its way to Chicago, Metra spokeswoman Meg Reile said. The engineer saw the vehicle, sounded the horn and attempted to stop the train, which was traveling about 70 mph, Reile said. The train struck the driver’s side of the vehicle and pushed it about one-quarter to one-half mile further down the tracks. The gates and lights were working, Reile said.
According to witnesses, Baker came to a stop inside the gates before the tracks, and one of the gates was on the back of her car, Reile said. The vehicle was clear of the tracks but then rolled forward, she said.
Witnesses told police they sounded their horns to alert Baker.
“It’s a puzzle as to why the car rolled forward,” Reile said.
The Will County Sheriff’s department was reconstructing the accident and analyzing Baker’s cell phone, she said.
Baker graduated on June 5 from Lincoln-Way East, where she was involved in the Black and Blue Crew and intramural fitness programs, Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 spokeswoman Stacy Holland said.
“Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family,” Holland said.
Baker and her younger brother worked at the Culver’s restaurant in Frankfort, near the high school. Other family members work at the Tinley Park Culver’s, Rush said.
“We’re all deeply saddened and trying to deal with it,” he said. “They are good workers and good people.”