Widow Of Metra Worker Killed In Deadly Explosion Files Lawsuit

The widow of a Metra track inspector who was killed in an explosion in Chicago on 3rd November has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the commuter rail agency.

On Thursday, Sandy Zavala from Joliet filed the suit in Cook County saying Metro failed to give her husband Omar Solis, 37, with a logically safe working environment. The lawsuit also contents Metra contravened engineering regulations in regards to the use of flammable gas tanks and failed to accord adequate labor to perform the assigned tasks, amid other allegations.

Zavala also filed an urgency motion to probe and shield evidence that includes welding equipment, trucks, and railroad tracks.

At the day of the accident, a metra official revealed that Solis and another man were using flashlights when making repairs to raised tracks when the sudden explosion occurred.

The blast happened in the Old Irving Park neighborhood, near the Grayland station, and neighboring residents reported the large blast shook their homes. According to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, Solis, a father of two boys, succumbed to injuries at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center about 30 minutes after the blast. The other man whose name has not been released who was working at the scene was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in critical condition, as reported by Chicago Fire Department spokesman at the time of the incident.

“He knew he was prone to risk, but he always was ‘safety first, safety first,’” Zavala, 37, indicated. She met her late husband when they were both 14. “He loved his work and liked learning new things.”

Relatives said Solis came from a railroad family. He started working at Metra at only 20 years and had a spanning 17-year career with the agency. His brother also works for Metra together with 11 other relatives.

More than 300 people including many members of his Metra work community, came to bid farewell to Solis at his burial in Joliet on Thursday.

Described by his family as a hard worker and a family man with an “infectious smile,” Solis enjoyed taking his sons Omar, 19, and Brian, 16, on excursions to the batting cages. At times, he would overcook dinner on the grill then order pizza instead, a thing his family liked to tease him about. Brian Solis had a birthday since his dad passed on, and begun the day with a visit to his gravesite.

“People who ride Metra don’t know how much effort and work goes into keeping the tracks and the rail in a safe environment for 70 mph trains,” stated one of the attorneys for Solis’ family, George Burgess.

“Railroad workers aren’t liable to state workers’ reimbursement laws,” Burgess explained.

Zavala revealed that she opted to file the suit against the agency as she wants answers on what exactly happened to her husband.

Solis’ father-in-law, Manuel Zavala Sr., 69, revealed that he worked for Metra for close to 43 years, sometimes alongside Solis. Zavala also said one of his uncles’ was also killed in his line of duty on tracks a few decades ago.

A Metra spokesperson was however not immediately accessible to give an opinion regarding the lawsuit.