Rail safety experts encourage life-saving conversation after another deadly accident

Jul 29, 2022, 7:39 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — After another deadly rail accident in Utah, safety experts are encouraging vigilance and a conversation with your family that could save a life.

Carl Arky, spokesman for the Utah Transit Authority, said parents should take their kids for an in-person lesson.

“I don’t think that it’s enough to just sit down at a kitchen table with them and talk about this,” Arky said. “I think it’s time for a field trip. Come down to a platform, come down to a UTA FrontRunner station. See how people do this.”

Arky said our fast-paced society has become impatient. He said it’s amazing how many cars and people will go around crossing gates, oftentimes ignoring the danger.

A woman on Thursday accidentally stepped out in front of a FrontRunner train and later died. UTA officials say she may have been paying attention to another train. 

In April, a Jordan High School student died after his bike collided with a TRAX train. He didn’t realize a second train was coming.

Craig Bolerjack, who does play-by-play commentary for the Utah Jazz, said each crash reminds him of the tragedy that hit his family when he was 9 years old. His grandmother died at a rail crossing in Missouri.

“She just happened to be over the tracks, just enough and unaware of what was going to happen in a matter of seconds,” he said.

Bolerjack now volunteers for Utah Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit public awareness and education program focused on rail safety.

“We were a very tight-knit family,” Bolerjack said, “but that one moment in time really changed my childhood.”

He said it can be tempting to try to outrun a train, but it’s hard to judge all of the conditions.

“You save your loved ones from a lot of heartache,” Bolerjack said. “We went through that. I went through counseling because of it, and you know, I didn’t think it would impact me into adulthood, but it has.”

Arky said people need to heed the ample warnings.

“The number one thing I think we need to tell people is the only thing you should be thinking about as you approach a railroad crossing is that crossing,” he said. “Take your earbuds out, put your phone away, don’t be surfing the web, don’t be texting anybody. You need to be paying attention.”

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Rail safety experts encourage life-saving conversation after another deadly accident