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Man critical after truck-train crash

Vehicle ignored warning lights at S. Jordan tracks

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 15 2002 12:24 p.m. MST

SOUTH JORDAN — A man is listed in extremely critical condition after a Union Pacific train rammed the pickup he was driving near 10200 South and 300 West — the location of other auto-train accidents in the past, authorities said.

The pickup was traveling east on 10200 South about 5:15 p.m. As the driver approached the tracks, he passed three signs: a railroad crossing sign and two signs with flashing lights, South Jordan Sgt. Kevin Worlton said. Witnesses in other cars saw the signs, but it is unclear whether the pickup's driver did.

At least three witnesses also told police the train's horn was blaring, but for an unknown reason the driver crossed the tracks. The engine of train hit the bed of the pickup, pushing it about 20 yards into a nearby ditch.

The unidentified driver, in his 40s, was transported to University Hospital by medical helicopter. He's in the intensive care unit, Worlton said. An unidentified passenger was taken in an ambulance to Alta View Hospital and treated for a laceration to his head.

Investigators are trying to determine why the pickup's driver crossed the tracks. Drugs and alcohol don't seem to be factors, Sgt. Dan Starks said.

There are three signs but there are no crossing gates at the intersection. "I do know of accidents here in the past," Starks said.

In 1938, 23 children were killed when a train hit a school bus there. On Dec. 31, 1995, three teens were hit and killed by an Amtrak train there.

Recent years of legislation and city government proposals to make the area safer haven't materialized, but the Utah Department of Transportation now has the money to put in signals, South Jordan city manager Rick Horst said.

"But I think the indication is they're going to close (10200 South) and move the crossing to 10000 South," Horst said.

At 300 West, 10000 South is a dirt road. UDOT is expected to pave it and install crossing gates. Horst doesn't know when the project will begin.


E-MAIL: lhancock@desnews.com

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