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$6 million settlement in train crossing crash that killed dancer

Investigators work the scene where Katie Lunn was killed in a collision when her SUV was struck by a northbound Amtrak train at a crossing in University Park Friday April 16, 2010. photo by John Konstantaras

The family of a dance instructor killed when an Amtrak train slammed into her SUV two years ago at a University Park train crossing has settled its wrongful death suit for $6 million.

Katie Ann Lunn, a performer and dance instructor, had been on her way to her Lincoln Park home from the American Dance Awards contest at Governors State University at the time of the April 16, 2010, crash.

Video from the Chicago-bound Amtrak train and witnesses confirmed that the gates, lights and bells were not working at the Stuenkel Road crossing at the time of the accident.

A crew with Canadian National Railway Co. (CN) – which controlled the tracks – had been working hours before the crash, CN and witnesses told the Sun-Tiimes then. Several witnesses say they also saw workers and trucks near the tracks at the time of the accident.

In 2010, a witness to Lunn’s death, assistant Cook County state’s attorney Lauren Brown, said she was driving ahead of Lunn and barely avoided being hit by the train.

“The lights and the gate did not work. It was horrible. I did not know that train was there till it was up on me,” Brown said in 2010. “The gates did not go down, and there were no lights.”

Another witness, Lisa Smith, was also ahead of Lunn’s SUV in approaching the crossing and said “there were no flashing lights. The gates did not come down,” she said in 2010.

Opening statements in the family’s civil suit were scheduled for Tuesday, but on Monday night the family struck a deal with Illinois Central Railroad Company, a subsidiary of CN, the Chicago law firm of Corboy & Demetrio announced on behalf of the family.

“Our primary focus has been and will continue to be the safety of others and that we will continue to work towards that goal with the hope that future loss of life can be prevented,” Lunn’s father, Jerry, said in a statement.

Patrick Waldron, a spokesman for CN, said in a written statement that “CN again wishes to express its sincerest regrets and deepest sympathies to the entire Lunn family. CN remains committed to doing everything necessary to ensure that all CN crossings are safe. Our highest priority is the safety of our employees and of the communities through which we operate.”