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Chicago Rail Executive Killed by Train in Apparent Suicide

Authorities report that Phil Pagano, executive director of Chicago's commuter train service, stepped in front of an oncoming train in an apparent suicide Friday. Pagano, 60, was on administrative leave with pay while being investigated for allegedly accepting an unauthorized bonus of over $50,000.
Testimony of the train engineer reports that he engaged the emergency brakes when he noticed Pagano standing on the tracks, but was unable to stop the train in time. An autopsy is scheduled for Saturday, but it's expected to confirm the cause of death as suicide. Two notes that were found also lend that it is unlikely that foul play was involved in Pagano's death.

The Department of Transportation had been urged to investigate the spending of federal funds given to Metra and it was announced last week that Pagano was suspected of taking the bonus. Metra's board of directors was to meet Friday to discuss the investigation, but Pagano's apparent suicide by train hours before prompted that meeting to be cancelled.

Most suicide victims use handguns, with suffocation and poisoning being the second and third cause of suicide deaths in the U.S. An unofficial report conducted in 2005 suggests that approximately 200-300 suicides by train occur annually. Accurate figures are difficult to determine as suicide by train falls into the category of "all other causes".

Pagano had served as Metra's executive director for over 20 years. The Chicago metro commuter train company serves more than 300,000 people daily. His death comes just weeks after two teenage girls in Norwood, PA stepped into the path of an oncoming Amtrak train in an apparent suicide pact.