(Tooele County, Utah – July 27, 2011)
A Utah truck driver hauling water for a Wyoming company was hospitalized in critical, but stable condition Wednesday after his vehicle was struck and massively damaged by a Union Pacific freight train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Faust Road, just off Highway 36, about the 35 miles south of Tooele, UT.
The train, travelling at 50 mph, hit the truck at a crossing which lacked electronic protective devices such as lights, bells or gates, relying totally on passive crossbuck signs to indicate the presence of railroad tracks.
The truck driver, David James Pionke, 43, of Blanding, UT, probably did not see the approaching train, as he first stopped his rig, which was carrying 4,000 gallons of water for EC Sources of Wyoming, at the crossing and then proceeded across at about 5 mph. Pionke was ejected from the cab of the truck, which split in half when struck by the train, and was airlifted to Intermountain Medical Center in Murry, UT following the late morning accident. The water tank wound up perched on the upper nose of the locomotive and would have to be removed by crane.