TRAX train collides with car, two dead, others injured

MILLCREEK — Two people were killed and two were critically injured when a TRAX train collided with a small car Thursday evening.

The southbound train hit the small, four-door passenger vehicle at 7:10 p.m. near the intersection at 200 W. Central Ave. (4115 South). There are crossing arms at the intersection, which were still down with lights flashing when emergency crews arrived at the scene.

Unified Fire Authority Capt. Clint Smith said the train impacted the driver's side of the vehicle. The car was pushed about 300 feet down the track and remained on the track directly in front of the train when it came to a stop.

Identities of those who were killed and injured were not immediately available Thursday, but Smith said all of the victims were in their late teens or early 20s.

The two who died were both male and had been sitting on the driver's side of the vehicle. A female who had been sitting in the front seat on the passenger's side of the vehicle was in extremely critical condition, and a male who had been on the passenger's side in the back seat was in critical condition but was able to talk a little at the scene. Both injured passengers were transported to Intermountain Medical Center.

Smith said police believe the driver of the car tried to go around warning bars, leading to the accident.

Unified Police Lt. Don Hutson urged people to be careful at TRAX crossings.

"When the arms are down, that's an indication that there isn't enough time (to cross)," he said.

Utah Transit Authority spokesman Gerry Carpenter agreed.

"We can't stress enough the importance of obeying traffic signals," he said. "When (the trains) come through the intersections, they're moving very quickly and can't stop very quickly."

The trains accelerate fast, he said. On the stretch of track where the accident happened, the TRAX train likely was traveling near its top speed, which is 55 mph, he said. Police did not know how fast the car was going at the time of the accident.

"The (TRAX) driver had no time to stop," Carpenter said.

He confirmed that the accident was the first involving TRAX to result in multiple fatalities.

The conductor of the train was put on standard paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation, Carpenter said. The conductor also will have a mandatory drug and alcohol test, as well as have counseling services provided.

None of the 60 to 80 passengers on the train was injured in the accident. They were checked at the scene and transported on a different train. The train that was involved in the accident suffered only cosmetic damage, Carpenter said.

UTA continued operations Thursday night, but on a single-track basis around the blocked-off area. Because of the time of day, the incident only caused about five- to 10-minute delays in service, Carpenter said. The TRAX schedule was expected to be running as normal by Friday morning's commute.



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