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Train accident survivor shares story of accident, wants others to be safe at railroad crossings

Posted at 9:18 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 23:18:04-05

MAGNA, Utah — A Magna woman will always celebrate today as the day she walked away with her life after being hit by a train.

Back in 2004, Emily Clausen was at a crossing with no lights or crossing gate of any kind.

“I looked left up the train tracks as I was approaching and my front tires went over the first rail and then I looked right as my tires went over the second rail and the train hit me (snaps) just that quickly,” Clausen said.

We've surely all driven across a train track before here in Utah, but you may not realize they`re not all marked the same. In fact, many don`t have the bells and whistles and crossing gates you might expect.

A Utah railway train slamming into Emily along 7200 west and 41st south in Magna.

“When it hit me I remember the glass coming toward me in slow motion and my rearview mirror coming off in slow motion hitting me in the face,” Clausen said.

But Emily survived - only minor injuries from this major impact.

“When it hit me the front hitch of the train actually went through my door and picked up my car on that side about 3 feet and with the way that my tires were perfectly straddling the tracks it picked up my car and pushed me about 500 yards.”

From the train sounding its horn as it pushed her clear to the next crossing - one that ironically had a crossing gate. The intersection where she was hit only marked by a sign.

Clausen went back to the site of the accident and was amazed that no changes have been made after her accident.

“Still no crossing arms, no lights. it boggles my mind. it`s baffling,” Clausen said,

According to the Utah Department of Transportation and Department of Public Safety, there are a number of railroad crossings in Utah without lights or gates.

DPS says these crossings without all the bells and whistles are called passive crossings and are found in more rural areas. most state crossings are what they call active with warning devices like gates, bells or flashing lights. in fact, nationwide, the numbers are about even. officials here in Utah want to remind drivers if you see tracks, think train.