A Brookfield woman who witnesses say was standing inside the pedestrian railroad crossing gate at Prairie Avenue was struck and killed by westbound Metra train as its sped through the village at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The victim was identified as Sharon M. Steinke, 39. Brookfield police interviewed several witnesses who said that they saw Steinke standing on the tracks, but could give no reason why she might be standing there. One witness said she was wearing headphones and may not have known the train was coming.

“We do not know if she was startled by the train or not,” said Brookfield Police Lt. Kent Hildebrand. “It’s being investigated by us as an accident.”

The Cook County Medical Examiner performed an autopsy May 11 and determined Steinke’s death was accidental.

Metra service on the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe rail line was interrupted for approximately an hour as investigators processed the scene.

Steinke had lived in Brookfield for 12 years, moving here from her hometown of Oak Lawn. She graduated from Illinois State University and served briefly in the U.S. Army. She met her husband, Michael, a local property owner, while renting an apartment in one of his buildings. The two wed on April 5, 2004.

Michael Steinke described his wife as an avid runner. She worked as an administrative assistant at the Ace Hardware corporate office in Oakbrook. For complete obituary information, see OBITUARIES on page 12.