Hickory man dies after being struck by train

While reportedly crossing tracks in Westmont

By Laura Bollin

A Hickory Hills man was killed March 7 when he was struck by a train while crossing the railroad tracks at Cass Avenue and the Burlington Northern Sante Fe railroad in Westmont.

Eric Bennett, 31, was crossing the tracks at the grade crossing when he was struck by the train, which was headed east, at 5:46 p.m. He was pronounced dead on the scene at 6:03 p.m., police said.

The cause of the accident has not been determined, police said. The accident is currently under investigation by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe police, the DuPage County Coroner’s Office and the Westmont Police Department, police said.

A train engineer and crew members were on board the train, but no one was injured, police said.

Train service was stopped until 6:45 p.m. Cass Avenue vehicle traffic was detoured until 8:30 p.m., police said.

Public works was ready for snow storm

Palos Hills public works commissioner tells City Council

By Kelly White

Mother Nature blanketed the area with eight inches of wet, heavy snow last week during the most significant storm this winter here.

In Palos Hills, the Public Works Department was prepared. Working alongside the Palos Hills Police Department, Public Works Commissioner Dave Weakley sent his men to the most problematic areas of the city. With snow continuously falling for roughly 18 hours on March 5, public works employees were out all day, Weakley told the City Council at its meeting last Thursday. All four of the city’s public works trucks used for plowing snow were sent out during the storm.

“I would really like to thank our Public Works Department for a job well done,” Palos Hills Mayor Jerry Bennett said. “Not only were our trucks out there immediately during the storm, they stayed out there continuously all day for constant snow removal, making driving possible for our residents that absolutely needed to that day. Our crews always go above and beyond a lot of other towns by always staying on top of what needs to be done.”

Bennett received phone calls from a handful of residents late on Tuesday night, thanking him for keeping the roads safe, he said.

“They couldn’t believe how quickly we got the roads cleared and they were just calling to express their gratitude to the Public Works Department,” he added.

Weakley emphasized the most important thing for public works to focus on during the storm was keeping the roads safe and drivable. He hopes that since March has “come in like a lion, she will leave like a lamb,” he said.

Public works has been busy performing maintenance work throughout the city including routing and painting of the city’s sanitary sewer lift stations and potable water-pumping stations; trimming parkway trees; removing buckthorn and weeds at the city-owned Palos Hills Country Club; and repairing street lights and repairing pot holes.

Palos Hills has in the past year been having problems with water leaks. Results of a survey conducted last year have not yet been submitted for review; however, 20 water leaks have been detected and public works is in the process of completing the repairs, Weakley said. He plans to submit the survey results to the City Council at a meeting later this month.

Travel Troubleshooter by Christopher Elliot

Q: We had to cancel a cruise recently because my husband needed to have surgery. I called American Airlines to cancel the flight and was told that the tickets would be good for one year from the day they were purchased.

But when I called the airline to rebook, I was told the tickets were worthless because I was a “no show.”

I’ve called American Airlines several times and they keep insisting that we have lost the tickets. I called Expedia, the online travel agency through which we booked the tickets, and they show that the tickets were canceled.

I don’t want my money back — I just wanted to use the tickets for another trip in two months. I would appreciate anything you could do to help.

Miriam Bustamonte, San Francisco

A: Your credit should still be good. But how can you know if it is?

Normally, when a business cancels a service, it offers you a cancellation number. If you get a cancellation number, be sure to keep it for future reference, just in case someone questions your order. If you didn’t, then you need to get one. A business should be able to offer some kind of proof in writing that you forfeited a product or service.

And what if it doesn’t? Well, then it’s your word against its word if there’s ever a dispute like the one you’re having. And businesses — and specifically airlines — have a way of believing their own version of events. American thinks you didn’t show up for your flight.

I can understand why American would want to keep your money if you were a “no show.” It didn’t have the opportunity to resell your seats, so it lost money. Still, if you tried to cancel, there should be some record of it, somewhere.

I would have handled this cancellation differently. Since you booked your tickets through Expedia, I would have canceled my tickets directly through the online travel agency and insisted that it provide evidence of the cancellation in writing. Expedia would have been able to let American know of your change in plans. At the very least, I would have let Expedia know of your cancellation, preferably in writing.

After that, you needed to get a paper trail going: written proof that your flights were canceled — preferably a cancellation number of some kind — and then, when American denied credit, use the back-and-forth emails between you and the airline. (These emails can easily be forwarded to a supervisor, if necessary.)

Calling American or Expedia wasn’t the best idea. There’s no evidence of these conversations, so they’re not even worth having, when it comes to a grievance like yours.

I contacted American on your behalf and it restored your credit.

(Christopher Elliott is the author of “Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals” (Wiley). He’s also the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine and the co-founder of the Consumer Travel Alliance, a nonprofit organization that advocates for travelers. Read more tips on his blog, or e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Christopher Elliott receives a great deal of reader mail, and though he answers them as quickly as possible, your story may not be published for several months because of a backlog of cases.)

What do you say?

Larry Thomas

David Branigan

Dani Wilkin

Gary Gow

Julia Chereson

 What is your favorite movie?

(Asked to actors/actresses in the locally filmed “You Don’t Say!” movie, which premiered last Thursday in Orland Park)

Larry Thomas, a.k.a. Soup Nazi, Los Angeles

“I love hundreds of films and if I had a top 10 list, it would have 100 films on it. But ‘Casablanca’ epitomizes every aspect that I love in every movie I love all in one movie.’’

Dave Branigan, Palos Park

“I just saw the end of it [last week] — it’s ‘Love of the Game’ with Kevin Costner. It really has nothing to do with baseball. It’s the whole love story and the way they frame the love story. It’s just a wonderful movie. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad Kevin Costner movie.”

Dani Wilkin, Orland Park

“The one that keeps ringing in my head is ‘Seven.’ It’s a dark and beautiful movie in a weird way. It’s one that I can’t stop watching.”

Gary Gow, Homer Glen

“I like the old black-and-white movies and the one that comes to mind is ‘Pride of the Yankees.’ It’s historical and shows a real humble man [Lou Gehrig]. I’m a big fan of the ordinary guy who does extraordinary things.”

Julia Chereson, Chicago

“My favorite movie is ‘Forrest Gump.’ I will cancel my plans for an entire day if ‘Forrest Gump’ is on TV, even if it’s in the middle of the movie. It’s incredible.”

Orland library exhibits student art

Orland library exhibits student art

  The artwork of Orland School District is on display at the Orland Park Public Library through March 31.
  The artwork from grade 1-8 students includes a variety of mediums including pencil drawings, watercolor paintings, clay sculpture and recycled material designs. Each year, the nine District 135 Art educators work with the library in creating the display as a way to celebrate National Youth Art Month.
  Here, 2nd grade artists Jane Harvey and Justin Jomon create paint splatter artwork at Center School.

Submitted photo