Rail safety experts encourage life-saving conversation after another fatal crash

SALT LAKE CITY — After another fatal train crash 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 children for an in-person lesson.

“I don’t think it’s enough to sit at a kitchen table with them and talk about it,” Arky said. “I think it’s time to take a field trip. Get off at a platform, get off at a UTA FrontRunner station. See how people do that.

Arky said our fast-paced society has grown impatient. He said it’s amazing how many cars and people will drive around the barriers, often unaware of the danger.

On Thursday, a woman accidentally exited in front of a FrontRunner train and later died. UTA officials say she may have been paying attention to another train.

In April, a student at Jordan High School died after his bike collided with a TRAX train. He didn’t realize that 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 befell his family when he was 9. Her grandmother died at a railroad crossing in Missouri.

“She was just over the rails, just enough and oblivious to what was about to happen in seconds,” he said.

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

“We were a close-knit family,” Bolerjack said, “but that moment really changed my childhood.”

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

“You save your loved ones a lot of heartache,” Bolerjack said. “We’ve been there. I took advice because of it, and you know, I didn’t think it would impact me as an adult, but it does.

Arky said people should heed the many warnings.

“The first thing I think we need to tell people is that the only thing you should be thinking about when approaching a crossing is that crossing,” he said. “Take off your headphones, put your phone away, don’t surf the web, don’t text anyone. You have to be mindful.”

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