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 McDonald Steinke, 39, of 4221 Vernon Ave. 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. Family members were notified and interviewed by Brookfield police May 10.
Metra service on the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe rail line was interrupted for approximately two hours as investigators processed the scene.