Cyclist Killed After Confusion About Second Train At Crossing
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The identity has been released of the 23-year-old man who was killed by a FrontRunner train after crossing gates lifted when a freight train passed, only to drop just 13 seconds later for a second train.
Officials with the Utah Transit Authority said Cameron Hooyer, of Salt Lake City, was hit and killed by the train late Thursday night during a large, late-night bike riding gathering.
Hooyer was participating in a “999 Ride” event that happens every Thursday night, and was one of hundreds that stopped along 900 South for a Union Pacific train to pass around 11 p.m., according to UTA spokesperson Carl Arky.
Once the freight train passed, the crossing arms lifted and the lights stopped flashing, Arky explained, only to be lowered again 13 seconds later for an approaching FrontRunner train.
“Unfortunately, some of the riders decided that they were going to ignore the warnings,” Arky went on to say. “They went around the crossing gate, they ignored the lights, and they ignored the bells ringing. Most of them made it across the tracks. One didn’t.”
One of the participants of the bike ride said there was a lot of confusion when the gates lifted and then lowered again so quickly.
“Everybody thought it was safe to cross,” Salt Lake City resident Ashley King told KSL. “There were no lights flashing, no bells or anything. I cross these tracks all the time and even from my standpoint, I thought, ‘It’s safe to cross.’”
King said the tragedy could have been prevented if the crossing arms stayed down in situations where two trains are traveling so closely together.
“It’s absolutely shocking that more people were not injured,” she said. “There were just so many people on the track at that moment because the bars went up and everyone flooded onto it to cross.”
UTA officials said the 999 Ride event organizers should have told them about the event beforehand and provided a map of the selected route so that the transit agency could have alerted train operators and possibly stationed police officers at the crossing.
“At that hour of the night on that particular stretch, you don’t expect to see many people—let alone hundreds of people on bicycles,” Arky said.
Officials with Salt Lake City said the cycling group has never applied for a permit. The city’s police department said there was no need to apply for a permit or notify them as long as they obeyed the rules of the road.
“If it’s going to disrupt people’s normal flow of traffic then we might need to hear from them,” said Detective Greg Wilking with the Salt Lake City Police Department.
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