-- Officials in Utah said today they are investigating the cause of a heart-stopping collision caught on video recently, in which a passenger train smashed into a semi-trailer truck, severing the vehicle and leaving packages scattered across the roadway.
"The first trailer behind the semi was pretty much cut in half by the train," said Chief Jeff Barrett of the South Davis Metro Fire Department. "They quickly assessed the drivers, who were uninjured, and then we had crews get on the train and start evaluating passengers."
Barrett told local ABC affiliate KTVX that there were about 82 passengers on the train and that none of them reported any injuries.
In a news release today, the transit authority said that preliminary investigation results showed the crossing gate arms were up at the time of the crash and the flashing lights and bells were not activated.
"In the event of a power outage or lack of signal, crossing gates are programmed to default to the 'down and active' position as a safety precaution," Utah Transit Authority said in its statement. "Preliminary information indicates the gates were affected by the severe ice and snow conditions at the time and were in the default 'down and active' position, as they are programmed."
Remi Barron, a spokesman for the transit agency, told ABC News today that a crew had been sent to the scene Saturday to check on the crossing gates after they remained in safety default mode for about 12 minutes, leading to traffic problems.
He said that after the crew arrived to work on the gates, the arms went up. He said the crossing gates were operating properly previously and should not have gone up with a train approaching. Less than a minute after the gates rose, the collision occurred.
He said the agency was interviewing the crew members, who are on administrative leave. He said the agency has not ruled out human error and was examining data from the crash site.
"The agency has never had an accident like this before, and UTA is investigating why and how it happened to ensure it doesn't occur again," the agency said.