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FrontRunner Engineer Shares Story After UHP Trooper Saves Man’s Life

CENTERVILLE, Utah — The engineer who was operating the FrontRunner train that collided with a car in Davis County called the Utah Highway Patrol trooper who pulled the driver to safety a hero in a Facebook post Wednesday night.

Riley Nelson said he was operating the train Wednesday morning when he saw something on the tracks in Davis County.

Nelson said he wasn’t sure what it was because of the headlights from morning rush traffic on I-15 and Union Pacific tracks that run parallel to UTA tracks in the area.

As the train approached, Nelson said he realized it was a car on the tracks.

UTA Releases Train Camera From FrontRunner Vs. SUV Crash

YIKES! We just got this video from UTA. It's the dash video from the FrontRunner train involved in yesterday's crash. The operator was able to slow the train down enough to give the trooper an extra few seconds to save the unconscious driver of the SUV stuck on the tracks!

Posted by KSL 5 TV on Thursday, October 17, 2019

“I threw on the emergency brake, and prayed that I was wrong and I wouldn’t hit anything,” Nelson said in the post. “For a split second I thought I would stop short, but trains take a long time to stop.”

UTA spokesperson Carl Arky said Nelson activated the emergency brake when the train was 21 seconds from impact; in that time, the train was able to slow from 79 mph to approximately 30 mph, giving UHP trooper Ruben Correa enough time to pull the driver from the car.

“If he had made the decision seconds later, it would have been a disastrous outcome,” Arky said.

“Just as they went out of view, I saw the Trooper physically haul the guy out of the car barely even a second before impact,” Nelson said in the post. “I felt immediately that they were safe, and that despite appearances, God answered my daily prayer. Every morning, I pray to Heavenly Father and ask that He protect me and all those around and on my train. This morning, I know He did, and I thank Him for that.”

Nelson also said his train left five minutes late because he missed an employee shuttle due to short staffing Wednesday. He said the delay meant he reached the area of the crash about three minutes later than normal.

“That means I would have most certainly hit the car and this would most likely be a fatality accident,” he said.

“I’m grateful my shuttle van was late. I’m grateful I left the station late,” Nelson said. “I’m grateful Trooper Correa put his life on the line. I’m grateful for the quick response by the emergency crews in reacting to the accident. Most of all, I’m grateful the driver survived without any serious injury. God is good, all the time.”

UTA officials said video of the crash from the train will be available in the near future.

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