SALT LAKE CITY – He says he was just doing his job, but a UTA FrontRunner operator is being credited for saving the life of an 8-year-old boy who has autism.
On January 17th, 2018 Francis Rendon was headed north to Layton on train No. 9. He had to use his emergency brakes after he saw a young boy running along the tracks.
“I'd seen him in the mirror, just the top of his head,” Rendon said.
Rendon got out to investigate and spotted the boy under the car, directly behind the locomotive.
“I coaxed him over and told him, 'You can't be there, you need to be away from here,'" Rendon recalled. "I asked him if he was cold, and he wanted to go on the train where it's warm.”
He boarded the train with the boy and rode to the next station. The boy’s mother was waiting there with police.
“There are no words to describe the panic,” said Ashley Cofford.
Cofford says her son has autism and has taken off before.
“He's an escape artist," she said. "It's really hard to keep him contained.”
Cofford’s apartment is near the FrontRunner tracks, and when the train had stopped she panicked.
On Wednesday, she got to meet Rendon for the first time and thank him for rescuing her son.
“I think he's amazing. He saved my life that night.”
UTA leaders honored Rendon for going above and beyond. He’s been with the company for 18 years.
“I was relieved and grateful we got him back onto the platform,” Rendon said. “As I was proceeding up to Clearfield, a freight train came by and then I got a little shaky after that. Just seeing how much closer that freight train would have been if I wouldn't have got him.”