UTA FrontRunner Engineer Credits UHP Trooper & ‘Divine Intervention’ For Saving Man’s Life

Oct 17, 2019, 6:58 PM | Updated: 8:40 pm
(Photo: Utah Highway Patrol)...
(Photo: Utah Highway Patrol)
(Photo: Utah Highway Patrol)

CENTERVILLE, Utah — Utah Transit Authority engineer Riley Nelson spoke about his efforts to slow down his train after he spotted a vehicle stranded on the tracks between Pages and Parish Lane in the Centerville area Wednesday morning.

Nelson credited “divine intervention” and Utah Highway Patrol trooper Ruben Correa for saving the driver’s life after his car crashed onto the FrontRunner tracks.

Video released by UTA Wednesday showed the engineer’s perspective as the train raced towards the vehicle where trooper Correa was pulling out the unconscious driver.

“I saw him basically pull the guy out and they disappeared below my field of view so I didn’t see them get out of the way,” Nelson said. “ I just saw him start pulling and then they disappeared.”

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!More info here: https://ksltv.com/?p=423704

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

Nelson said he initially didn’t know if the trooper and driver had cleared the way.

On Thursday, Nelson was credited as the unsung hero for his actions in slowing down the train.

“It was precious seconds but they were precious seconds that might be the difference between life and death,” said UTA spokesperson Carl Arky.

According to Arky, Nelson only had about 21 seconds before impact when he spotted the vehicle on the tracks less than a mile away.

Nelson initially thought the vehicle’s lights were a reflection of the morning traffic on the rails. But soon after, he realized it was an SUV.

“At that time I put the train into emergency brake,” Nelson said.

This slowed down the train from 79 mph to about 30 mph, according to Arky, as Nelson spotted the driver and trooper.

“When you review the footage, you can see it really was a close call,” Nelson said.

The train plowed through the SUV a few seconds after Correa pulled the driver out.

On Thursday, Nelson refused to take any credit saying it belongs to Correa.

“He’s the true hero of this whole thing. He’s the one that put his life on the line,” Nelson said. “I got to shake his hand at the scene and tell him that was some dang fine heroism on his part.”

However, Nelson said something else was also at play that triggered a sequence of events that started hours before the train left the station, including people calling in sick, his shuttle running late, and his late departure from the station.

“There was definitely some divine intervention going on,” Nelson said. “I don’t believe people calling in sick and my being late to the station was a coincidence. I don’t believe in coincidences.”

According to Nelson, those circumstances delayed the train by three minutes, which made all the difference.

“If I had been going through there on time, on the scheduled time, I would’ve definitely made it there before the state trooper, and the whole outcome would’ve been very different,” he said.

UTA officials said they have about 50 engineers operating their trains.

LIVE: FrontRunner operator speaks about crash

LIVE: UTA FrontRunner operator Riley Nelson is speaking about the Wednesday crash where a UHP trooper pulled a man to safety before his SUV was hit by a train

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

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Follow @KSL_AlexCabrero...
Alex Cabrero

SportClips in Sugar House reopens after massive apartment fire

SportClips in Sugar House reopened for business Tuesday, 33 days after they were forced to close due to a massive fire that broke out at an under-construction apartment complex.
1 day ago
Charges against Linda Tracy Gillman were dismissed after the state was not ready to move forward wi...
Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com

Charges dropped for 75-year-old woman accused of hiring hit man

Linda Tracy Gillman is already in prison after being convicted of trying to hire a hit man to kill her ex-husband and was scheduled to be on trial for attempting to hire another person, to eliminate evidence and a witness in that case.
1 day ago
Jed Boal

Plow drivers needed, but UDOT says the storm itself was the source of delay

Was it staffing issues or the storm itself at the source of traffic troubles Monday night and Tuesday morning across the Wasatch Front?
1 day ago
Tamara Vaifanua

Festival of Trees showcases 11-year-old who persevered against the odds

Patient Champion of the Festival of the Trees celebrates an 11-year-old girl who lost her leg in an accident six years ago and is now defying the odds.
1 day ago
Beaver Mountain ready...
Mike Anderson

Cache Valley resorts cashing in on early start dates

Ski resorts in Cache Valley planned for some of their earliest start dates in about a decade thanks to our recent storms.
1 day ago
(Shelby Lofton/KSL TV)...
Shelby Lofton

Dispatchers get accidental 911 calls from skiers because of iPhone crash technology

Summit County dispatchers are seeing an uptick in accidental emergency calls from skiers. The new crash technology on iPhones is designed to detect severe car crashes, but it's often accidentally activated at ski resorts.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
UTA FrontRunner Engineer Credits UHP Trooper & ‘Divine Intervention’ For Saving Man’s Life