Two people riding a motorcycle were in serious but stable condition after being struck by a TRAX train in downtown Salt Lake City Sunday afternoon after they attempted to turn left in front of a train, according to witnesses.
At about 2:20 p.m., the motorcycle was facing east on South Temple, attempting to turn north on 200 West, according to William Smith, who was driving a truck directly behind the motorcycle.
The left-turn light had not changed for several minutes in anticipation of the train, Smith said, and the motorcycle attempted the turn in front of the eastbound blue line train to Sandy.
"I don't think they saw the train," he said.
The collision was described by train passengers as a loud "boom."
One of the motorcyclists was thrown dozens of feet in the air and landed about 25 feet behind the motorcycle, said Victor Hester, a trained EMT who witnessed the accident while working on landscaping near the intersection. The other was lying on top of the bike's muffler.
Hester ran over and began administering aid, as did another trained EMT and a nurse who witnessed the accident. One motorcyclist had suffered a head wound and was bleeding profusely and the other was complaining of leg pain, he said. He said neither was wearing a helmet.
"It was good there were three of us because we could help both of them," he said, wearing blood-stained sweatpants and cleaning blood from his arms.
Smith also rushed over to the victims. He said at first they were unresponsive, but then were able to say their names. When medical crews arrived a few moments later, they continued working on the patients and took them to the hospital.
Police said they are investigating the accident, but it appears the train had the right-of-way, said Salt Lake Police Lt. Josh Scharman.
None of the dozen passengers on the train suffered any injuries, and the train sustained between $15,000 and $20,000 worth of damage, said Utah Transit Authority spokesman Gerry Carpenter.
The driver, who was visibly shaken as he was escorted from the train, will undergo standard alcohol and drug tests and will be placed on administrative leave pending an investigation of the accident, Carpenter said.
Scharman warned motorists to pay attention to lights, especially around TRAX trains.
"We have trains moving at fast paces, and they have a hard time stopping quickly," he said. "It's important to stay clear of the tracks."
TRAX service was suspended for more than an hour after the accident.