TRAX train hits truck on University Line

A University Line TRAX car plowed into Mathew Bullock’s truck Thursday morning after he made an illegal left-hand turn from 500 South to 1100 East.

Kara Hill, a student on her way to class, said she grabbed onto a stranger’s leg to brace herself following the impact.

“It just happened so fast, you don’t have time to think…you just kind of brace yourself and hold on for the ride,” she said. “It was chaos. I thought that it had derailed, then we started seeing objects flying, so we knew that something seriously wrong had happened.”

Another student, Josh McCleod, said he figured the train had hit a car soon after the accident.

“It was actually pretty gentle. It wasn’t too bad,” he said.

Tyler Peterson, news editor at The Chronicle, was in the TRAX car that hit the truck.

“I didn’t see anything, but I looked out the window and saw a bunch of debris, and then I put two and two together,” he said.

No one on the TRAX train was injured. Paramedics removed a conscious, bleeding Bullock from the passenger side of his vehicle and took him to University of Utah Hospital. Bullock was upgraded from serious condition to fair condition Thursday night.

“It’s amazing he survived,” said Justin Jones, spokesperson for the Utah Transit Authority.

This was the third accident involving TRAX and a car within a 24-hour period. Drivers failing to obey signals and signs were the cause of all three accidents, two of which occurred at the intersection of 500 South and 1100 East.

Thursday’s accident awakened Tony Lucero, who lives near the intersection. He said he has witnessed three non-TRAX-related accidents at that same location since he moved in, one of which resulted in death.

“This is bound to happen over and over if they don’t remove the turn lane and extend the retaining wall to 11th East,” he said.

However, Jones said that as long as people obey the traffic signals, there should not be a problem.

“This is a partnership between the train, the automobile and pedestrians. As long as we all obey the signals, we can coexist very safely,” he said.

Lt. Arthur Healey said that people have become a little lax when driving around the trains.

“The trains will always win,” Healey said. “You cannot get in their way.”

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TRAX safety precautions people should observe:

1. Obey all the signs and signals of the train.2. Always expect a train when you are driving or walking. 3. Never take the chance that there isn’t going to be a train.Source: Justin Jones, UTA Spokesperson