(West Jordan, Utah – June 8, 2011)
A 15-year-old girl waiting with her cousin for the passage of an eastbound Utah Transit Authority TRAX light rail test train near 3200 West in West Jordan, UT Wednesday afternoon, walked right into the path of a westbound train, was hit, and died instantly.
The tragedy occurred on UTA’s new Mid-Jordan line, which is set to open for passengers August 7, but has been operating test trains since May 16. The area is in a recently-approved Federal Railroad Administration “Quiet Zone”, which allows trains to operate across railroad grade crossings without sounding their horns.
Without the benefit of a warning horn, the victim, Shariah Casper, and her cousin, may have been confused by the recently-installed signal or had their view of the second train blocked by the first train. Area residents told Salt Lake City-area news media that they are not used to the new TRAX line and the new traffic signal at mid-block 3200 West.
Rebecca Payton, who lives less than a block from the tracks, said residents have not become accustomed to trains running past the area every 15 minutes. “This train is blowing past an intersection without a light or a horn,” Payton remarked. “It is just scary!” Motorist Kami Laney, who was in her car on the opposite side of the tracks, witnessed the unfolding of the tragic accident.
“One (girl) saw it (the second train) and jumped back,” Laney recalled. “It breaks my heart, the woman who has to get that news that her daughter was hit by a train,” she added.