A weekly bicycling event turned deadly Thursday when a 23-year-old man was hit and killed by a FrontRunner train.
The victim — Cameron Hooyer, 23, of Salt Lake City — was part of 999 Ride, an informal organization that meets Thursday nights at 9 p.m. at 900 East and 900 South for group bicycle rides.
About 11:15 p.m., hundreds of members of the group were at 900 South and 600 West when a Union Pacific train crossed through the intersection. When the freight train had passed, the warning arms rose and the lights stopped flashing, but 13 seconds after that, the process started again for the oncoming FrontRunner train, UTA spokesman Carl Arky said.
But some of the bicyclists had already started to cross the tracks when the lights came back on.
Most of them made it, but Hooyer was struck and killed by the train, which, Arky said, was traveling about 45 mph and arrived at the crossing about 30 seconds after the second set of warnings.
"They gave ample warming. The arm was down. The lights were flashing. The bells were sounding, and on top of that, the operator is blasting the horn on the train,” Arky said.
Video shared with The Salt Lake Tribune late Friday night by Daniel Hanna, who was riding with the group, shows dozens of cyclists stopped at the tracks just after the first warning ends. The group starts riding forward, and the video stops as the rider enters the intersection and the second warning begins. Just before it cuts, cyclists can be heard yelling in surprise at the second train.
Arky said the train operator was "shocked to see hundreds of cyclists near the tracks at that hour, and several of them trying to cross the tracks and beat the train. … Eyewitness reports indicate there were other cyclists who also gambled, ignored the warning signals, went around the crossing gate and rode across the tracks before the train arrived. They were the lucky ones.
“We feel for [Hooyer’s] family, his next of kin, his friend. But we’re also grateful that it wasn’t worse. There could have been far more people injured or killed here.”
On its Facebook page, 999 Ride describes itself as “an inclusive, all-welcoming social ride” that is “leaderless” and has “no formal rules, only a couple guidelines. We’re not much for rules or authority. Don’t be a dick. Leave no trace. Be responsible for yourself. Helmets, lights, and situational awareness are important. … We don’t want anyone to get hurt, let alone be responsible for leading people through an intersection only to get into an accident.”
Correction: 10:10 p.m. • An earlier version of this story erroneously stated how cyclists were warned of the oncoming trains. It has been corrected.