Frontrunner close call triggers investigation, additional training

Photo from Frontrunner dash camera video

(KUTV) — It was a close call that’s now being blamed on confusion. On August 27, a Frontrunner train almost collided with a rolled over semi truck in Centerville.

The truck had left Interstate 15 and crashed, coming to a rest right next to the tracks.

Information about the proximity of the truck to the tracks was first called in to the Utah Transit Authority by West Valley dispatch at 1:11 p.m. They’d learned about it from one of their officers, who was in the area and off-duty at the time.

The initial location of the incident was reported as Farmington. However, later, dispatch learned the actual location was Parrish Lane, near Centerville.

Less than two minutes after the incident was reported, the driver of Train 8 was notified about a semi on the line near Parrish Lane. However, she hearsd “Pages Lane," which is farther down the track.

When she first heard that something was up ahead, the operator was traveling at the train's maximum speed of 79 miles per hour, and was 45 seconds from the point of contact.

She slowed to 65 miles per hour within 19 seconds.

At that point, she had 26 seconds left before hitting the debris.

Bruce Cardon, Commuter Rail General Manager for UTA, said that, had she hit the emergency brake at that point, she still would have needed 35 seconds to come to a complete stop.

However, the emergency brake was not applied until five seconds before she crossed the debris.

Dashcam video shows the semi well before.

So what took the driver so long to stop?

UTA’s response was that the video was reviewed and no violations on the part of the operator were found.

However, we also wanted to know more about her background. We were told that information is part of her personal file and can’t be made public.

Jeff Green, a former UTA employee, said he knows who was driving and it’s the same person he filed complaints about while at UTA. Green said he was concerned about her safety practices, saying she often had trouble with signaling and speeding was also an issue.

Things have changed since this incident, though. In a similar scenario, train operators would now have the option of stopping the train immediately, or enforcing reduced speeds of 20 miles per hour.

Dispatchers and the driver in this case have also since undergone additional training.

If you spot something on a track that you think needs to be reported, you can do so by contacting UTA Police. You can call them on 801-287-EYES or even text UTATIP to 274637.

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