David Nicholson, his wife, two sons and their 6- and 7-year-old grandchildren were returning from Ogden via FrontRunner on July 1 when they suddenly became separated by a mile.
As the train approached the South Jordan station, the family proceeded down from the upper level of the rail car to exit the train. They gathered at the door with other people and waited for the door to open. Standing partly in the doorway was the train's "host" in his orange vest. Nicholson's wife, who is partially disabled, was standing near the host, along with the two grandkids.
Suddenly the door opened and grandma and the grandkids exited onto the station platform. Nicholson and his two sons were slightly away from the door and were waiting their turn to exit when the door suddenly closed. Nicholson thought the doors would open again, but the host said, as a safety feature, they could only be opened by the train engineer. He made three attempts to contact the engineer but was unsuccessful.
The train then took off as Nicholson and his sons peered helplessly through the window at the grandkids with panicked looks on their faces.
When Nicholson asked what could be done, the host said the only option was to ride the train to Provo, then catch a train back to South Jordan.
Concerned about the fate of his young grandchildren and disabled wife standing on the platform in 104-degree heat, Nicholson suggested they get off at the Draper station and have UTA Transit Police drive them back. The host said that wasn't a good idea and they should just ride on to Provo.
Nicholson's son, the father of the two stranded grandkids, called UTA customer service on his cellphone and was told there was nothing they could do. He then was cautioned about his "loud voice."
Calculating that the next northbound train wouldn't get to the South Jordan station for another 45 minutes or so, they got off at the Draper station against the advice of the host and suggested a UTA cop meet them there to discuss the problem.
The transit officer arrived but seemed confused as to why she was called to the Draper Station. Nicholson suggested she give them a ride back to the South Jordan Station and she indicated that wasn't necessary because there was an adult left with the children.
At that point, Nicholson's son called his wife, who was on her way home from work, and she picked up the stranded trio in South Jordan.
Several days after the incident, Nicholson called UTA customer service to complain. He was told UTA had an incident report he could fill out and send in. He asked to have the form sent to him but has not received it. Now, two months after the incident, Nicholson hasn't heard from anyone at UTA.
UTA spokesman Remi Barron said incident reports are available online and customers can fill them out electronically. He said a review of the incident shows Nicholson called police dispatch, but there is no mention of a request for a ride back to South Jordan. He added that they were told a return train would arrive shortly, but to Nicholson, 45 minutes is not shortly when his wife and grandchildren are stranded on a stiflingly hot day.
"It can be frustrating to become separated from the rest of your party, and our customer's safety is UTA's top priority," said Barron. "In this case, our officers determined there was no immediate risk to anyone involved."