Students from Carbon County were among some 250 passengers aboard the Heber Valley Railroad when a runaway rail car reportedly hit the train on Tuesday. The accident resulted in the slight derailment of two of the cars. Three students and one adult who were aboard the train were taken to Heber Valley Medical Center after the mishap, and others met up with buses at Vivian Park in Provo Canyon, explained Nate McDonald, spokesman for the Heber Valley Railroad. McDonald said that an adult sprained an ankle sometime after the collision, and that other injuries were cuts and bruises.
"The teachers did a really good job of taking care of the students. There was a lot of confusion. They were on the train for about three hours," said Jess Banning, the principal of Castle Heights Elementary. Banning explained that the trip was a reward field trip for students who had read for 30 minutes each night all year.
The accident occurred when the train had stopped near Soldier Hollow to change engines in preparation for the return trip to Heber. McDonald explained that the accident was the result of a procedural error that had allowed a car owned by the railroad to drift out of the rail yard.
McDonald emphasized that safety is important to the Heber Valley Railroad, and that the students were in fact learning about railroad safety. He pointed out that in 13 years that the railroad has been operating, this is the first accident which has resulted in any passengers being injured. The railroad has launched a full investigation into the incident and has put new procedures in place to insure that this type of incident does not happen again, said McDonald. He said the program with schools around the state will continue.