(Woods Cross, Utah January 24, 2017)
Utah Transit (UTA) authorities were scrambling for answers Tuesday to a Saturday morning crash between a UTA Front Runner commuter train carrying 82 passengers which struck a FedEx twin-trailer semi at the 1100 North crossing in Woods Cross, UT at about 10:00 AM, MST. The train barely missed the two FedEx employees seated in the trucks cab, after the crossings lights and gates failed to activate.
The failure of the safety appliances to signal the approach of the train, one of a daily average of 56 UTA trains that cross there daily at maximum allowable speeds of 79 mph, was being blamed on inclement weather after the Tuesday release of dash cam video taken of the collision by North Salt Lake Police, who were responding to the crossing situation. Prior to that, no mention of the signal malfunction was made.
According to UTA, a preliminary investigation shows the crossing gates were up and the flashing lights and bells that normally indicate a train is approaching were not active, said Salt Lake City Fox TV, Channel 13.
The crossing is also used by Union Pacific trains which utilize parallel tracks at the quadruple-track intersection, but UTA obviously has joint maintenance responsibility.
The unsuspecting truckers narrowly escaped death as the train sliced through the first of a pair of trailers the tractor was pulling, directly behind the trucks cab.
UTA authorities said the crossing warning devices had been in a fail-safe condition of down and flashing until a signal department employee reached the scene to fix them. At that point, the gates and lights returned to their normal, stationary positions, and traffic began moving across the crossing. A minute later, and without the gates down nor the lights and bells operating, the train came through.
Earlier news coverage of the event made no mention of the crossing warning malfunction until NSLPD released the video. The two FedEx employees were not identified nor were their statements regarding the near-fatal accident made public. However, once the dash cam video was released, UTA issued a statement saying The agency has never had an accident like this before, and UTA is investigating why and how it happened to ensure it doesnt occur again.
Federal Express issued its own statement soon afterward, saying We are aware of the incident in Salt Lake City and are grateful that no one was seriously injured. We worked with authorities during their investigation to quickly clean up the scene and minimize the impact on customers.