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TRAX train collides with pickup

3rd accident in 2 days leaves driver seriously injured

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A vehicle involved in a collision with a TRAX train at 500 South and 1100 East rests on a flatbed Thursday. The motorist was attempting to make a left turn when hit by the eastbound train.

A vehicle involved in a collision with a TRAX train at 500 South and 1100 East rests on a flatbed Thursday. The motorist was attempting to make a left turn when hit by the eastbound train.

Laura Seitz, Deseret Morning News

A man suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries Thursday when his vehicle was hit by a TRAX train.

The accident was the third between a TRAX train and a vehicle in the past two days.

In the latest incident, a 33-year-old man was attempting to make an illegal left turn on 500 South near 1100 East about 10:30 a.m. when he was hit by the eastbound train, Utah Transit Authority spokesman Justin Jones said.

"This (intersection) doesn't have a signal because there's no turn lane here. You're not supposed to turn left at all here," he said.

The impact of the collision caused extensive damage to the man's pickup truck. The train then smashed the vehicle into a light post before it stopped, causing even further damage.

The man was initially transported to the hospital in critical condition but was later upgraded to fair condition, Salt Lake City police detective Dwayne Baird said.

The accident came on the heels of another one in the same spot late Wednesday. In that case, a car attempted an illegal left turn that resulted in a minor fender-bender with a TRAX train, Jones said.

That morning, a car was hit at 400 South in an area where left turns are allowed. But police said the driver ran a red light and was hit. He was transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Jones said accidents between TRAX trains and cars are actually rare, especially since UTA began its safety campaign to prevent such incidents. The campaign also warns pedestrians about illegally jaywalking over TRAX lines.

Incidents like the ones over the past two days, however, serve as good reminders, Jones said.

"It's a good reminder for people to follow the (traffic) signs," he said.

Since TRAX began running in December 1999, the intersection of 900 South and 200 West has had the most TRAX-car accidents with nine, Jones said. Coming in second was 800 South and 200 West with six.

The intersection ranking third for accidents was the 1100 East and 500 South intersection. That area has had four TRAX-car accidents, including this week.

Jones said UTA engineers will look at things such as lighting in those areas to see if that needs to be improved. But he said warning signs were already posted and there wasn't much more they could do except remind people to follow traffic rules and pay attention.

If the driver in Thursday's accident had paid attention, "he would have seen the train right next to him," Baird said. "The train always wins, and it always has the right of way. It's hard to outrun a train. Just pay attention."


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com