Officials said two teenagers are lucky to be alive after an empty Union Pacific coal train smashed into their pickup truck.
The truck became stuck in the snow on the railroad tracks at the intersection of Center Street and Third West in Nephi about 10 p.m. Thursday. The two 16-year-old boys jumped from the 1973 International pickup truck just minutes before the northbound train engine crashed into it.The train pushed the truck 200 feet, where it rolled onto its side into an irrigation canal.
Nephi police officer Randy Gould said the accident is still under investigation.
"The engineer saw the individuals leave the truck. He had thrown the train into an emergency stop and was only traveling about 15 mph when the train struck the truck," said Gould. However, had the teenagers remained inside they would have been killed, he said.
Gould said the boys had been at the Juab County Fairgrounds and were headed east back to town when they lost traction on the railroad crossing because of the snow. The driver said he had tried backing off the tracks and going forward, and finally decided they must "bail out" in order to save their lives.
Gould said the boys reported that the light on the northbound engine kept getting closer and closer as the driver struggled to get the truck out of the snow in time.
Gould commended the train engineer, T.G. Jones, Santaquin, for doing an excellent job of slowing the massive train when he saw what was going on in the beam of his headlight. "It took some quick thinking," said Gould.
Nevertheless, the truck was totaled, he said.
The train was returning empty from the Intermountain Power Project, which uses coal to generate electricity.