UTA accidents tie up traffic, leave several injured


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Two accidents involving Utah Transit Authority vehicles tied up traffic in Salt Lake City Friday night and sent several people to the hospital.

It all started with a very serious collision of a TRAX train and a car near 1700 East and South Campus Drive. A few minutes later, there was a crash involving white UTA pickup at 1300 East and 500 South.

Police say the UTA truck involved in the second accident was on his way to the first accident. The driver ran a red light and T-boned a Nissan Altima.

Witnesses say pickup truck briefly went airborne and crashed into two more cars. One person was seriously injured; four others had minor injuries. Police say the UTA pickup truck driver was clearly at fault.

"[He] ran the red light, according to all the witnesses; had his hazards on, yet his hazards don't give him the right to run a red light. He needs to stop like everyone else," said Salt Lake City police Lt. Scott White.

The TRAX train-versus-car accident, which started this series of events, was also a serious one. A 27-year-old female driving the car made a left turn right in front of the TRAX train. The two collided near the Huntsman Center on the University of Utah campus.

"Damage to the car [was such that] the driver had to be cut out of the car by the fire department," said Salt Lake City police Sgt. Arbon Nordgran. "She was transported to the hospital."

We don't know the extent of that woman's injuries, but by the looks of what is left of her car, they are obviously pretty serious. Her vehicle was dragged nearly 300 feet before coming to a stop.

UTA spokesman Jerry Carpenter says UTA employees, when they're racing to an accident, are instructed to obey all traffic laws. They do not have a right to go through a red light, as seems to be the case in the accident at 1300 East.

The driver of the UTA pickup truck will be placed on administrative leave while UTA and police investigate the accident.

E-mail: jhollenhorst@ksl.com

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