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Woman hit, killed by TRAX train in SLC

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Posted at 5:09 PM, Jan 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-07 07:59:38-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A pedestrian is dead after being hit by a TRAX train during rush hour Monday. Utah Transit Authority police said the woman was drunk and stumbling when she was hit. The accident happened around 4:30 p.m. near Spring Mobile Ballpark off 1300 South in Salt Lake City.

Police said the train had just left Ballpark Station and was gaining speed while heading north when the train operator spotted someone on the tracks but couldn't stop in time.

Police said the victim is most likely a homeless woman, 39 or 40 years old. Her personal belongings were strewn all over the rails as she may have been briefly dragged by the 4-car train.

Officials said she was drunk and slipped on ice just before the collision.

"Preliminary information right now, it looks like an accident, we haven't found anything to indicate suicide," said Lt. Alex Blauer with UTA Transit Police.

Passengers felt the impact. The crash delayed trains throughout downtown. Hundreds of passengers had to be bussed away from the accident scene, which was cleared by 6:30 p.m.

"The buses pick up at the nearest station to our location north and south and shuttle the people north to the next TRAX station," Blauer said.

Meanwhile, the first officer on scene actually recognized the victim.

"Our officers had dealt with her as a public intox earlier in the day around 4:30 p.m. at the courthouse station," Blauer said. "Our officers took her into custody at that time for her safety."

Police took the woman to a detoxification facility just a few blocks from the accident scene.  But as Volunteers of America told FOX 13 News, it's not as if the detox center is jail.  Clients can leave if they want and it appears that's what the woman did moments after arriving.

"Our staff is trained to work really hard with them to try and keep them around as long as possible but the client has the right to walk out and the police are very aware of this," said Andrew Johnston, Division Director of Volunteers of America Salt Lake City. "Sometimes it's difficult because clients can walk out and they're clearly not sober but they may not be an immediate threat to themselves."

The victim was just a half hour after leaving that detox facility.  The staff there is emotionally upset and supervisors are offering support.

Police have identified the victim, but as of Monday night are not releasing her information until her family has been notified. Meanwhile, the train operator is on paid administrative leave and the train is back at the yard for inspections, which is protocol for UTA.