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SALT LAKE CITY — The father of the Uber rider killed Wednesday in downtown Salt Lake City is expressing his anger and shock at the death of his son.
The Salt Lake City Police Department identified the person Friday as 28-year-old Jalen Neal.
The Utah Transportation Authority previously said Neal’s Uber driver ran a red light and then a TRAX train stripped the car, severing the back of it.
“The driver, I don’t know why he was trying to beat the red light,” said Anthony Neal, the victim’s father, who described losing his only child as a “strange feeling.”
“He was a good Christian,” he said. “I went to church every Sunday.”
Jalen Neal was on his way to work at a veterinary hospital that morning in Salt Lake City.
“He was a gay black man,” the father said. “It’s one of the hardest things about living in this country. Being black is hard enough. Being a gay black man in Utah, one of the more conservative states, probably had to be harder. “
Anthony Neal believes the driver will receive a ticket and misdemeanor based on his conversation with detectives.
“It’s anger,” he said. “Shock. Numb.
He wants a tougher sentence.
“The driver’s name is withheld at this time,” police said in a news release Friday. “No charges have been filed, no citations have been issued and no arrests have been made.”
The family is now planning final arrangements across the country.
Jalen Neal has lived in the Salt Lake Valley for the past few years. He grew up in Mississippi and spent his summers in the Detroit area. He will be buried next week in a suburb of Detroit, the neighborhood where his father lives.
Anthony Neal said he had a fight with his son a few years ago which makes dying even harder.
“It’s just heartwarming to find out that you haven’t seen your child in years and to find out that this is the last time you will see them,” he said.
The father wants drivers to know they can’t beat the train, and he wants parents to realize this about disagreements: “Don’t let that stop you from having a relationship with them. Try to contact them from any way you can, with your child, and even if you can’t reach them, always pray for them and always love them.