UTA: Operator, excessive speed to blame for Sunday’s TRAX derailment

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Transit Authority said Wednesday that a TRAX train derailment Sunday was caused by operator error and excessive speed.

Dave Goeres, UTA Chief Safety and Security Officer, stated that the male driver of the train left Central Pointe Station near 2100 South and 200 West around 3:30 p.m. and approached a curve while going too fast. The posted limit is 15 mph and Goeres said the train was traveling at 37 mph.

He said, according to video and audio they collected from the train, the driver knew something was wrong before the train derailed.

"Realized that... the train was operating too fast," he said. Goeres said the driver, "Did apply emergency the emergency brakes. Unfortunately it was not in time to prevent the car from going off the rails."

Three people were taken to hospitals to be treated after the crash. Goeres said two of the three were released later on Sunday evening, and the third patient was set to be released on Wednesday.

The driver, who has not been identified but who was described as experienced, is under UTA personnel review and has been placed on administrative leave. A toxicology report for the driver has been completed and UTA has seen the results, but Goeres couldn't comment about it.

Goeres summed up the mishap as a mistake, and pure accident.

Officials estimate the cost of the accident to UTA at about $300,000 for equipment damage, plus possible compensation. Goeres said their claims and risk department has been in touch with passengers.

UTA and State Safety Oversight investigated the derailment. Goeres said they also sent information to the National Transportation Safety Board.