CRIME

Family of man shot by juvenile at TRAX station shares update on recovery

Apr 10, 2024, 10:55 PM

KEARNS — The family of a man shot at a South Salt Lake TRAX station last week is sharing their sadness over what unfolded, as they work to get support for his recovery.

They say Thomas Yazzie was running errands for his younger brother when the shooting broke out as he went to catch the TRAX train. Now they’re devastated after he barely survived and hope the community will help with his medical care.

Going through photos on her phone, Taelyn Yazzie pulled up photos of her close-knit family in her Kearns home on Wednesday.

“There was all of us on a camping trip,” she said, pointing to a picture of Taelyn, her two sisters, grandmother Francine Yazzie, and uncle Thomas Yazzie.

When Taelyn scrolls through photos from the past few days, they differ dramatically.

“He’s very, very swollen,” Taelyn said, looking at a photo of Thomas in a hospital gown, lying in a bed with the tubes hooked to medical devices that are keeping him alive. “This one is the life support.”

Her uncle, she explained, was going to take the TRAX train to pick up a few things for his brother and her other uncle Willis last Thursday. Taelyn and Francine explained that Willis was hospitalized from a seizure and brain aneurysm, and was expected to be released on Thursday.

Uncle Thomas Yazzie with his mother Francine Yazzie and nieces including Taelyn Yazzie on the left.  (Taelyn Yazzie)

They said Thomas had been by Willis’ side.

Francine was down in Louisiana helping her third son recover from a work injury when she got a call from police Thursday evening telling her son Thomas had been shot, and it wasn’t looking good.

“When I first heard he was shot, I just went into shock,” Francine remembers. “I started shaking. I didn’t know what to do.”

She immediately called Taelyn.

“Her first response was, ‘What is happening? What is happening? What is happening to us?!” Francine said.

2 injured in shooting at TRAX stop, gunman at large

According to UTA Police, it appeared there was some sort of disagreement between three people at the Meadowbrook TRAX station in South Salt Lake. Someone pulled out a gun, shooting Thomas and a second person.

The niece and mother would later find out, after the suspect turned himself in, that the alleged shooter is a juvenile. The women say they were told he is 16 years old.

They have no idea what would have happened, that would have led to a seemingly random person firing shots.

“He was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Francine said, of her son. “I don’t know who this kid is.”

Thomas Yazzie has been intubated and sedated since last Thursday (Taelyn Yazzie)

“I definitely have my feelings towards the situation,” Taelyn said. “But it does make me sad wondering what kind of living situation that kid is living in, to make him be okay with doing something like that.”

Taelyn rushed to the hospital, and now she and Willis are the ones who are sitting by Thomas’ side. Her uncle was shot in the stomach twice, she said, and has already had five surgeries.

The women said doctors didn’t think Thomas would make it that first night.

Francine flew back from Louisiana. She said she’s been holding Thomas’ hand, as he’s sedated and intubated.

“I just left it in God’s hands,” Francine said, tearing up. “Just asked him to be with us.”

As the tight-knit family tries to grasp why this happened, they focus on how Thomas can get through this.

“It is day-by-day,” Taelyn said. “It’s going to be a very long process.”

The family says Thomas works seasonally and doesn’t currently have health insurance. They imagine he’ll be stuck with the medical bills from that shooting. Taelyn started a GoFundMe* to help Thomas in his recovery.

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Family of man shot by juvenile at TRAX station shares update on recovery