SALT LAKE CITY — A man lost an arm to a FrontRunner train Friday after witnesses said he became impatient and hurried onto the tracks.
The pedestrian was waiting at the crossing near 1700 South and 650 West about 7:45 a.m. Eventually he passed the lowered crossing arms and crawled under a freight train that was stopped on the tracks. But when he got to the other side he was hit by a northbound FrontRunner train.
"He crawled underneath the freight train and started running across the tracks, and FrontRunner came flying by at high speed and just smacked right into the side of him," said one man who witnessed the accident and rushed over to help. He asked not to be identified.
"He was conscious. I talked to him," the witness said. "I took my belt off and tied it around his right shoulder, because his arm was missing, and then just stayed there and put pressure on his wounds."
The man, who is in his 20s, may have been wearing headphones and was possibly distracted or didn't hear the speeding train coming, Salt Lake police detective Cody Lougy said. An iPod was found on the tracks.
"He didn't know what happened. (He) thought he blacked out," the witness said.
The victim was taken to an area hospital in serious condition. Police said he may have tried to turn back, but the train still caught the side of his body.
Utah Transit Authority officials said the FrontRunner train was moving about 40 mph when it struck the man. Passengers on the train were kept aboard for about 90 minutes while the scene was cleared and investigated.
UTA spokesman Remi Barron called the accident preventable.
"We ask people to stop and obey the traffic signals. When the lights are flashing, when the arms are down, do not cross," Barron said. "And if there's a train on the tracks, do not try to cross underneath it. That's a dangerous situation."
UTA has an ordinance in place that allows them to cite pedestrians for "distracted walking" near trains, though it's rarely enforced, Barron said. The ordinance is meant to warn against accidents.