Video shows students crossing through stalled trains

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SALT LAKE CITY -- A man says he's noticed a disturbing trend in Salt Lake with some students' route to and from school. His account and cell phone video of the teens passing through stalled trains has now caught the eye of Union Pacific.

Dan Maxwell works near a railroad crossing at 300 North and 500 West. His video shows teenagers, possibly from West High School, passing through and over stalled trains at the crossing.

"They just jump up on the car, like if they were going to hitch a ride, and walk across the face of the car and jump off the other side," Maxwell says.

Seleste Arevello is one of those students who admits she's climbed over the rail cars, not thinking of the possible consequences.

"It was, like, taking too long, and I had to go to school. So then I just climbed the stairs and, like, went through," Arevello says.

Maxwell says he has seen this happening for years, and he's spotted dozens of kids doing it in one day. He shot the cell phone videos a month ago but just came forward with them, saying the problem continues.

"I don't know if the parents even know," Maxwell says. "I can assume that some might, and the kids are told not to. But kids will be kids, and they'll do what they want to do."

Maxwell is concerned someday a student will be seriously injured or killed.

"Those cars, when they go, they go right now. There's no forgiving," he says.

Vern Keeslar, with Operation Lifesaver, says watching Maxwell's video of the students passing through the train is disheartening. He's spent years educating students at West High on train safety. [CLICK HERE for more information on train safety from Operation Lifesaver]

In fact, Keeslar says his organization gave some students a tour of the railway, trying to express the dangers of getting too close, hoping it would make an impact.

"There's nothing worth losing your life for. Wait 15, 20 minutes; most of the time it's just five minutes," Keeslar says.

KSL Newsradio also showed the video to Union Pacific officials based in Omaha, and company officials say they plan to look into more patrols and outreach.

"Even if [the train] started a little bit and jerked, and you were just kind of hopping through it, it could--worst case--kill you," spokesman Tom Lange says. "You're looking at serious, serious, catastrophic-level injuries."

Lange says Union Pacific patrols its 32,000 miles of track in the United States, but officers can't be everywhere at once. He said trains slowing and stopping are a part of normal business, although Union Pacific tries to minimize that.


Story compiled with contributions from Andrew Adams and Jennifer Stagg.

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