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UTA says human error caused crash between FrontRunner, FedEx truck

By Pat Reavy | Posted - Jan. 30, 2017 at 5:39 p.m.


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NORTH SALT LAKE — Human error is to blame for a dramatic crash between a FedEx truck and a FrontRunner train last week, the Utah Transit Authority announced Monday.

On Jan. 21, a semitrailer hauling two Federal Express trailers was crossing the railroad tracks at 1100 North in North Salt Lake when the first trailer was destroyed by an oncoming train, barely missing the cab. The crash was captured on video by a North Salt Lake police officer who was also about to cross the tracks but stopped.

The crossing arms were up when the semitrailer began crossing. No one was injured in the incident.

“We have determined that the gates were raised by a UTA employee who responded to the scene, and the accident was caused by human error,” Dave Goeres, UTA's chief safety and security officer said in a prepared statement.

Prior to the crash, the crossing arms had been stuck in the down position for about 12 minutes, Goeres said. A UTA worker arrived at the scene to fix the problem.

Proper procedure calls for FrontRunner trains to slow to 15 mph before workers raise the crossing arms. In this case, that didn't happen, according to the UTA investigation.

Goeres said the FrontRunner train conductor was in the process of being notified to slow down, but the worker had already raised the crossing gates. The gates had been up for only a minute or two when the accident happened, he said.

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The employee responsible for lifting the crossing gates too early has been fired, UTA announced.

"All controllers and system workers have received additional retraining on the crossing protection procedures," UTA spokesman Remi Barron said in a statement.

"UTA wants to take this opportunity to reiterate that safety is our top priority and our system is safe. However, we would like to emphasize that our workers and the public should always be aware of their surroundings when near rail crossings and rail cars," Barron said.

"It is safe to cross at road crossings when the red lights are not flashing. However, people should never enter a rail crossing if the lights are flashing and should never go around a lowered gate," he said.

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Pat Reavy

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