A 73-year-old woman died Friday evening after a TRAX train crushed her car.
Killed in the accident was Joan Menlove, Bountiful. According to Salt Lake City police, just before 5 p.m. Menlove was travelling west on 800 South when she apparently ran a red light at 200 West. The northbound TRAX train hit Menlove's car and crushed most of it underneath the train.
Menlove was declared dead at the scene. Salt Lake police Capt. Scott Atkinson said police did not have enough information to determine if she ran the red light intentionally or if the sun had any effect on her vision. He also did not know how fast she was traveling.
Five passengers on the TRAX train were sent to area hospitals, although the injuries were not life-threatening. About a dozen people were riding in the first car of the train, said Kent Jorgenson, community relations director for the Utah Transit Authority. He did not know how many were on the other two train cars, although he said it was not unusual for the train to be filled close to capacity.
Once TRAX trains get to the downtown area, they never travel faster than 25 mph, Jorgenson said. Based on the short-distance that the train skidded after hitting the car, he said that it was not moving very fast at impact.
The accident derailed the train and knocked over at least one TRAX power pole. Roads surrounding the accident scene were closed and the TRAX line was closed between the Gallivan Plaza (300 South) and the Ballpark (1300 South) stations. Rush-hour passengers were transferred to buses and moved between the stations on alternate routes. TRAX will be open Saturday.
This is the first fatality involving a collision between an automobile and a TRAX train, Jorgenson said. Another fatality involved a pedestrian.
The cleanup, which involved lifting the train off of the car, wasn't completed until about 9 p.m. Crews had to replace a TRAX power pole, and the train would likely be out-of-service until they could get new parts.
Annie Ross, who was at her sister's house near the intersection, watched the accident happen and immediately ran to help Menlove. When she got there, the steering wheel had pinned Menlove's legs, and she had started to slump onto the passenger seat.
"I asked her if she was all right, and she said, 'Yes dear, I'm fine,' " Ross said. "Then she laid down on the seat. . . . I thought she was going into a coma."
Along with a nurse that was riding on TRAX and other people who had been working nearby, Ross just tried to keep Menlove awake and aware until paramedics arrived.
"I tried, I really tried," she said. "I tried my hardest."
Matt Morrow, who was stopped at the light going east on 800 South when the accident happened, said that Menlove tried "to beat the light" and then ran into the train. While most of the passengers on the train ran away from the accident, Morrow and others who watched the accident ran to help.
While others worked with Menlove in the car, Morrow, who has CPR and first-aid training, said he started checking passengers on the train. He also tried to calm the driver of the train.
"He was in shock. . . . He didn't know what was going on," Morrow said. "He barely knew who he was. I talked to him as long as I could, until somebody else came who could help him."The worst injury that he saw on the train, Morrow said, was a man with cuts on his head that had been hit by the power pole that was knocked into the train.