Surveillance video shows moments just before FrontRunner train fatally hits woman

Aug 8, 2022, 6:05 PM | Updated: Aug 9, 2022, 5:27 am

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Transit Authority said Monday that basic awareness could have saved the life of a 33-year-old woman who was hit and killed by a FrontRunner train in Salt Lake City.

A new video released Monday showed the critical moments leading up to Michelle Leyba’s death at a railroad crossing.

It showed that Leyba ignored the safety warnings. She was so focused on one train that she never looked in the opposite direction to see if another train was coming.

KSL aired the video to reinforce the danger at railroad crossings.

The deadly incident happened July 28 at the FrontRunner crossing at 617 West and 800 South in front of the Fear Factory.

Around 2 p.m. Leyba and a second person approached the crossing where the rail arms had lowered and lights flashed to warn about a Union Pacific train that was moving through the area.

The pair walked through the safety fence and stopped for a moment at the clearly marked “stop” on the sidewalk.

“It’s the same thing we tell our kids, when you get to a street you look left, you look right before you cross,” said Carl Arky, UTA spokesman. “Same with railroad tracks, you look left and right, got to pay attention to the lights, the signs, the bells, the gate arms that comes down. All those things are there for your protection.”

Leyba then proceeded onto the alignment. Less than four seconds later a FrontRunner train coming from the opposite direction hit her.

Arky said, “It was a (Union Pacific) train that was on the other tracks, and she was looking at when that train was going to pass so she could go across the tracks, did not look to her right and as a result never saw the UTA train coming.”

He said the train operator stopped the train as soon as he could.

“Trains are unforgiving, they can’t stop – not on a dime.”

Arkey added that there is one sure way to know when it’s all clear at a crossing. “You’ve got to wait until the lights stop flashing, till the bells stop ringing. Until that point, there could be another train coming.”

KSL TV also obtained the incident report Monday. The witness who was with Leyba stated she didn’t see the train coming either. The witness called it an accident.

UTA said trains have hit and killed four people this year, one of them was intentional. They’re asking everyone to please pay attention and do not ignore the warning signs.

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Surveillance video shows moments just before FrontRunner train fatally hits woman