- Train hits car stopped too close at crossing, driver escapes serious injuries
VERY LUCKY INDEED • Jenny Kugler stopped a bit too close to the tracks last Wednesday and was hit by a southbound train going approximately 48 miles per hour. The impact threw her car off to the left and spun it 360 degrees before coming to a stop against a utility pole. Kugler was transported to Central Valley Medical Center and treated for minor injuries.
By Myrna Trauntvein
Some people just have an angel on their shoulder and that is how Jenny Winn Kugler feels after living through the trauma of a train/vehicle accident in which her vehicle was shoved off of the tracks instead of under the train.
On Wednesday, June 20, at 10:45 a.m., Kuglar’s vehicle was struck by the train.
Wes Dudley, Nephi City Police Officer, said Kugler was traveling westbound to the county fairgrounds on 200 South when she stopped at the railroad tracks on 300 West.
“She stopped a bit too close to the edge of the railroad tracks,” said Dudley. “When you are going left, it is hard to see along the tracks in that location and she did not realize how close she was.”
A train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides and creates an optical illusion so the train does not seem to be moving as fast as it is.
Kugler’s Nissan Ultima was struck by four locomotives traveling without any train cars attached, he said.
“Her vehicle spun 360 degrees and slammed into a utility pole,” said Dudley.
He said that the train engines stopped just before reaching 700 South. He said, because the locomotives did not have cars they were pulling, the engines were able to stop within five blocks.
Each locomotive weighs 400,060 pounds equaling 1,600,240 pounds for the four engines.
For comparison purposes, a “short ton” which is the measure usually used in the U.S. is 2000 pounds.
“The speed limit for trains, through town, is 50 miles per hour. These locomotives were traveling between 48 and 49 miles per hour,” said Dudley. “So you can imagine the force of impact from that weight traveling at that speed.”
Trains cannot stop quickly. A freight train moving at 55 miles per hour, or an 8-car passenger train moving at 79 miles per hour, can take a mile or more to stop, that’s 18 football fields, so a locomotive engineer who suddenly spots a vehicle or pedestrian ahead has little chance of avoiding an accident.
“She is lucky the locomotives shoved her off of the tracks,” said Dudley.
Had the train engines struck the vehicle so that the car spun onto the tracks instead of off of them, the outcome would have been much different.
He said Kugler was taken by East Juab County Ambulance to Central Valley Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries consisting mostly of bumps and bruises.
He said the Nissan held up remarkably well under the impact though the vehicle was considered a total loss.
“I was impressed that it held up so well,” he said.
Union Pacific Railroad accident investigators traveled to Nephi to conduct their own probe into the accident.
“I talked to Jenny (Kugler) a couple of days ago,” said Dudley. “She was sore but she felt really lucky.”