UTA: Train operator ‘unsung hero’ after driver rescued from SUV on tracks

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UTA says the engineer's quick-thinking likely saved two lives

Photo: Utah Highway Patrol

DAVIS COUNTY (ABC4 News) – Utah Transit Authority is praising one of its engineers after a terrifying crash was marked with a surprise happy ending.

After a man crashed his SUV on FrontRunner train tracks in near Parrish Lane in Centerville, a responding Utah Highway Patrol trooper pulled him to safety moments before a collision with the oncoming train.

“We got a train comin’. We got a train comin’,” Trooper Ruben Correa shouts on the video, dragging the man to safety just two seconds before the train slams into the car and pushes it down the track.

Riley Nelson, the engineer operating the train, shared his version of events and called Trooper Correa a hero.

“He put no thought about his life and well-being to save a stranger from certain death. His actions are rightfully hailed as heroic,” said Nelson in a Facebook post.

Trooper Ruben Correa is a hero. I know he won't admit it, but it's true. He put no thought about his life and well-being…

Posted by Riley Nelson on Wednesday, October 16, 2019

UTA is shining some light on Nelson’s actions as well. UTA spokesperson Carl Arky said Nelson is an “unsung hero” in Wednesday’s incident.

Arky said Nelson was about three-quarters of a mile and about 25 seconds away from impact when he spotted the SUV on the tracks.

“He responded quickly and decisively, activating the emergency braking system when the train was 21 seconds from impact. In those 21 seconds the train slowed from 79 mph to approximately 30 miles per hour,” said Arky in a statement Wednesday evening.

Arky said Nelson’s actions gave Trooper Correa those “few precious extra seconds” he needed to pull the driver to safety.

“Had the train not slowed down, or had Riley waited another 5 seconds to activate emergency braking, the outcome most likely would have been tragic,” said Arky.

Arky said UTA plans to recognize Nelson for his quick-thinking and action that he took which saved two lives.

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