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Man injured after slipping under TRAX train

Published: Monday, Jan. 28 2013 8:16 p.m. MST

A Trax employee uses a snowblower to remove snow from the City Creek Station platform in Downtown Salt Lake City, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012.

Ben Brewer, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — TRAX operations were stalled for more than an hour Monday morning after a man was struck and seriously injured by a southbound train.

The accident occurred around 6:30 a.m. near the TRAX station at 2100 South and 200 West when the man was apparently trespassing, Utah Transit Authority spokesman Gerry Carpenter said. The man was hit by a southbound train.

"The gentleman was in the right of way, where he shouldn't have been," UTA Police Capt. Jason Petersen said. "He was about 30 feet north of the grade crossing, and somehow he ended up under the train."

It was unclear how the man ended up on the light-rail tracks. Carpenter said UTA officials planned to interview him. But one witness, Brian Christensen, said the man slipped.

"The gentleman was trying to get across on the tracks and he had lost his footing, and that's when he slid underneath the train," Christensen said. "I heard him yell, 'Help! Help!'"

Petersen said the man was dragged about 20 feet, but that the train was slowing as it approached the station, leading to injuries that allowed the man to remain coherent. Carpenter said the man was pinned under the train for about 45 minutes while emergency personnel worked to free him, using heavy lift equipment to lift the train.

Meantime, all train routes in every direction were stalled until about 7:40 a.m. Carpenter said there were some residual delays lasting between 10 and 15 minutes.

"Safety is our top priority," he said. "We need to make sure emergency personnel are safe, so we did not run any trains until they had cleared the scene."

A bus bridge was used to transport passengers, but "with the demand, it was very slow," according to Carpenter.

Jonny Love was on the train headed to work at the time of the incident and said he heard the man screaming for help. He thought the man was trying to walk alongside the train when he slipped.

"It's a big, 3,000-pound vehicle. Why walk in front of it?" Love said. "I hope he's OK."

Carpenter said this case is a good reminder of the importance of only crossing at designated areas when it is clear and safe.

"We will investigate why he was in there," Petersen said. "The grade crossing was fully activated when he ended up in there. He was in no-man's land."

Contributing: Shara Park

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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