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SALT LAKE CITY — The father of the Uber passenger killed in downtown Salt Lake City on Wednesday is expressing anger and shock after his son’s death.
The Salt Lake City Police Department identified the person on Friday as Jalen Neal, 28.
The Utah Transit Authority previously said Neal’s Uber driver ran a red light, then a TRAX train T-boned the car, clipping 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 dad, who called it a “strange feeling” to lose his only child.
“He was a good Christian,” he said. “Went to church every Sunday.”
Jalen Neal was heading to work at a veterinary hospital that morning in Salt Lake City.
“He was a gay Black man,” the father said. “That’s one of the hardest things to be 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 get a traffic ticket and a misdemeanor based on his conversation with detectives.
“It’s anger,” he said. “Shock. Numb.”
He wants a stricter punishment.
“The driver’s name is not being released at this time,” police said in a news release on Friday. “No charges have been filed, no citations have been issued, and no arrests made.”
The family is now planning the final arrangements from across the country.
Jalen Neal lived in the Salt Lake Valley for the past few years. He grew up in Mississippi and spent summers in the Detroit area. He’ll be buried next week in a suburb of Detroit, the area where his father lives.
Anthony Neal said he had a falling out with his son a few years ago, which makes the death even harder.
“It’s just emotional, to find out you haven’t seen your kid in years and just to find out this is way, the last time you’ll see them,” he said.
The father wants drivers to know they cannot beat the train, and he wants parents to realize this about disagreements: “Don’t let that get in your way from having a relationship with them. Try to reach out to them any way possible, with your kid. And even if you can’t reach them, always pray for them and always love them.”