Attorneys: UP digging out bridge collapse evidence
This undated family photo shows Burton Lindner, 69, (right), and Zorine Lindner, 70 of Glenview. | Photo courtesy Fisher & LaMonica
Updated: July 7, 2012 5:26PM
A muscular man guided his metallic blue Harley-Davidson Rocker into a Glenview parking lot Saturday, close to where his uncle and aunt were killed three days earlier.
He dropped to a knee, bowed his head and openly wept beside his motorcycle, as wreck site workers, police and others looked on. Bob Cichowicz said his uncle taught him how to ride a bike.
Burton and Zorine Lindner died July 4 when a coal train derailed and collapsed the Shermer Road rail bridge they were driving under in their black Lexus.
Tons of metal and coal fell on the couple, married nearly 47 years. Seventeen hours later, workers found 69-year-old Burton, a well-known personal injury lawyer in Chicago, and Zorine, 70, a former social worker.
“My aunt was the center of the family,” said Cichowicz, a 1985 graduate of Skokie’s Niles North High School. “Just last year she organized a family camping trip for 30 of us in Oregon, Illinois.”
“My son and I were apart for a while due to some things between my ex-wife and me. Burton extended an olive branch between us,” he said. “I last saw them a few months ago.”
Attorneys for the Lindner family, Michael LaMonica and Erron Fisher, also were at the scene Saturday morning with two hired train transportation experts to evaluate evidence for the civil court case.
LaMonica and Fisher had filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Friday morning in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of the couple’s elder son, Robert Lindner.
To preserve all evidence, they asked a judge to bar Union Pacific from working further at fatal crash site.
Judge William Maddux signed the order stopping the cleanup until 11 p.m. Saturday, but temporary tracks already had been laid and the viaduct over Shermer Road had been filled in with gravel.
“Union Pacific has already created a makeshift bridge and already has trains going over this spot,” LaMonica said Friday. “Which shows you they’re more interested in having their business carry on the day after this tragedy than they are allowing a real, thorough investigation to determine why these two amazing lives were taken.”
Both lawyers believed Union Pacific was all too quick in clearing the site of debris and purposefully manipulated crash evidence.
After a three-hour site inspection Saturday, LaMonica said factors causing the accident could be identified only when his site information was compared to Union Pacific scene data.
“Over the next seven days, in the discovery process we’ll get the Union Pacific information and show it to our experts,” Fisher said.
“We’ll also depose Union Pacific employees on what materials they touched or moved before they were removed from the wreck,” he said.
LaMonica said his legal team would focus on the material structure of the rail tracks, especially because the day’s high temperature was 104 degrees.
Union Pacific officials have said the tracks were inspected the day of the accident due to possible effects of extreme heat on the rails.
“Trains aren’t supposed to fly off tracks and kill people because of heat,” Fisher said.