Wheeling train crash victim leaves three young daughters behind; GoFundMe page established
Jesus "Ivan" Castrejon was anticipating a week that would make any dad proud.
His oldest daughter, Amaya, was graduating from high school, and his youngest girls Victoria, 5, and Sofia, 4, were eager to show him their taekwondo yellow belts.
But on Monday, the dump truck the Wheeling resident was driving collided with a Metra train on a private railway crossing in Hainesville.
Family members described Castrejon, 41, as a loving dad, brother and son who mentored his siblings and worked hard to provide for his children.
"Ivan took care of his younger siblings, Ivonne and Emmanuel (Manny), while his parents worked," explained Kyle Miller, Castrejon's brother-in-law.
"He was always there for them growing up," including taking Ivonne to her first concert, a Red Hot Chili Peppers performance.
Castrejon immigrated from Mexico with his family when he was 12. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help pay for funeral and related costs.
"As first-generation immigrants from Mexico they had to work their way up. Ivan had to learn English quickly. He did well in school and started working at a nursing home at 14," Miller said, sharing reminisces from his wife, Ivonne.
The loss of her father has been extremely hard on Amaya, 18, and the little ones are still trying to understand what happened, Miller explained.
"His daughters really adored him. His younger daughters, Sophia and Victoria, are active in taekwondo and couldn't wait to show their daddy their new yellow belts."
Castrejon enjoyed hosting gatherings for his extended family and in his down time loved sports, particularly boxing, Miller said.
The dump truck Castrejon drove was on the Metra tracks at Hainesville Road when an inbound Milwaukee North District Line train struck it. There were no lights, gates or bells at the crossing.
Metra officials are still investigating the crash but said the train was traveling about 60 mph and the engineer was braking and sounding the horn.
Castrejon's father saw something about the crash on television Monday but didn't connect it to his son. Gradually, relatives began to worry after seeing images of his cab and making unanswered calls to Castrejon's phone.
"We didn't get a chance to say goodbye," Miller said.
A visitation for family and friends will be held from 2 to 8 p.m. Monday at River Woods Funeral Chapels, 205 S. River Road, Des Plaines. A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 1170 N. River Road, Des Plaines.