A young lawyer at personal injury law firm Napoli Shkolnik died after her sport utility vehicle collided with an Amtrak train in Brighton, Illinois.
Napoli Shkolnik, a successor to the now-separated New York-based firm Napoli Bern, confirmed that associate Melanie Swearengen was killed after the Aug. 2 accident. Swearengen was based in Napoli Shkolnik’s office in the St. Louis suburb of Edwardsville, Illinois.
“We are sad to share the news that our friend and co-worker Melanie Swearengen was killed in a car accident earlier this week,” the firm said in a statement posted on its website. “Melanie was a dedicated attorney who advocated for her clients but was also a caring friend and loving wife and mother. She will be missed. Our prayers and thoughts are with her loved ones.”
The accident is referenced in an obituary for Swearengen posted online Tuesday by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That obituary notes that Swearengen lived in St. Louis and was 35 when she died as result of “injuries sustained when a train collided with her vehicle.”
Swearengen recently became an associate at Napoli Shkolnik, but had previously spent years at Clayton, Missouri-based Sievers & Associates, according to the obituary. She held an MBA from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and a law degree from St. Louis University.
“Her death came as she enjoyed the prime of her life,” the obituary said. “Melanie was a successful corporate attorney, [and] had a loving husband.”
The Post-Dispatch and other local news sources reported that Swearengen’s vehicle was struck on the passenger side by an Amtrak train making its way from Chicago to St. Louis. The accident reportedly happened after 10:00 p.m. on Aug. 2 as Swearengen attempted to drive across the train tracks. Her SUV the went off road and became stuck on the tracks, according to the Post-Dispatch.
Swearengen, reportedly on the phone with her husband moments before the tragedy, was thrown from her vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. The accident caused delays on the Amtrak train, and one passenger was taken to a hospital to treat minor injuries, according to local news reports. Swearengen’s family said in a statement that it is creating an educational fund for her 1-year-old daughter.
“Donations to that fund can be sent to the care of Shaun Swearengen, 2331 Albion Place, St. Louis, Missouri 63104,” the family said.