(Mona, Utah – June 20, 2020)
Three vehicle occupants were life-flighted to Utah Valley Medical Center for critical injuries after their vehicle was hit by a northbound Union Pacific freight train at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Union Pacific tracks and Burraston Road, near Mona, UT in Juab County. The collision occurred Saturday afternoon at about 5 PM, MDT.
The 22-year-old driver of a car was admitted in critical condition. The driver was identified as Jacob Michael Cottle of La Plata, MD. Both passengers, also 22, were flown to the Utah Valley Hospital, but were pronounced deceased at the hospital. The two occupants were Cassandra Brielle Hatch of Gilbert, AZ, and Tanner Ryan Davies of Spanish Fork, UT.
Even though a daily average of half a dozen Union Pacific freight trains cross Burraston Road at speeds of 50 mph, the crossing is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as flashing lights and gates. The angle of the sun might have been contributory to the tragedy. There have also been two other accidents at this dangerous crossing; one on August 6, 2015, severely injured four vehicle occupants.
It is virtually certain that lights and gates could have prevented this collision and the two before it. Union Pacific and Operation Lifesaver know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train collisions by as much as 96%.
The Juab County Sheriff’s Office and the Utah Highway Patrol were investigating Saturday’s tragedy.