A 16-year-old Chicago resident was pronounced dead at Loyola Hospital early Saturday morning after being found laying on the train tracks at the Forest Park Blue Line Station with severe head wounds.
Though investigators from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office originally felt that the wounds suffered by Brandon Washington did not appear to be caused by an oncoming train but rather by a hammer or similar weapon, Forest Park police say that photographs taken by evidence technicians indicate that the youth was indeed struck by a train.
“We were able to determine that certain injuries were from certain parts of the train,” said Sgt. Michael Keating of the Forest Park Police Department.
The incident occurred at about 2:39 a.m. Saturday, according to police. Washington was found laying on the westbound tracks at the station, located at 711 Desplaines Ave., by a CTA employee. His shoes and jacket were found about 150 feet east of his body, leading officers to believe that he was dragged by a train.
No witnesses reported seeing the accident or spotting Washington at the station. The majority of the evidence comes from a series of photographs taken by Off. Harold Grimes, the original evidence technician on the scene.
The pictures, according to Keating, show that certain parts of the underside of the train, including the sharp edge of a shock absorber and a metal knob on a generator, appear to match the shape of the head wounds suffered by the teenager. Blood and brain matter were also found under the train and on the tracks.
About 25 officers from WESTAF (West Suburban Major Crimes Task Force), a cooperative made up of evidence technicians and forensic experts from numerous area police departments, also assisted Forest Park police with the investigation.
According to CTA spokesperson Ibis Antongiorgi, electricity was shut down between the Forest Park and Ridgeland stations for just over an hour following the incident. CTA operated a shuttle between Forest Park and Austin until about 4:15 a.m.
Keating said there is no conclusive evidence regarding how Washington got onto the tracks, but that police do not suspect foul play at this point.
“Investigators spoke to the family to see if he had any problems, and as far as we can tell he was just trying to get home,” he said.
Photographs on file at the police department show that a hole in a fence next to the tracks immediately above a pile of rocks on the station’s north side has been patched up since the accident.
Antongiorgi acknowledged that the CTA patched up the hole late Saturday morning but said she did not know whether it was believed that Washington climbed through the hole to get onto the track.
Washington is described as a black male, about 5-feet 7-inches tall and 150 pounds. He was wearing a leather red and grey “Davoucci” brand jacket with a grey hooded sweatshirt underneath, a black shirt, black jeans, white Nike gym shoes and a blue knit hat with the word “Chicago” in orange writing.
Anyone who saw the victim prior to the incident or has any information about the incident is asked to contact the Forest Park Police Department at 366-2425.
A spokesman for the medical examiner’s office said that the matter was still pending police investigation and no official cause of death had been determined.