The wife of a Utah Transit Authority worker who was kidnapped and killed in 2016 is now suing her husband’s employer, saying the agency did not do enough to protect the man.
Kay Porter Ricks was killed on May 12, 2016, when a father and son who were wanted for an unrelated kidnapping abducted the UTA employee as he was working at the Ballpark TRAX Station, 1300 S. 180 West.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in 3rd District Court, Lorie Ricks asserts that UTA employees had expressed concern about the dangers of working alone in the area where her husband was kidnapped — and the company did not respond.
The lawsuit states that “on numerous occasions, UTA employees performing maintenance similar to Mr. Ricks, in locations similar to those serviced by Mr. Ricks, were threatened, assaulted or harmed by vagrants and other individuals” while at work.
The company failed to use GPS monitoring on its service vehicles, according to the lawsuit, and only enabled a “panic button” on UTA-issued communication devices.
“Unfortunately,” the lawsuit reads, “the panic buttons are only as good as the support staff monitoring those communications.”
Ricks did hit the “panic button” that day as he was kidnapped by Flint Wayne Harrison and his son Dereck James “DJ” Harrison around 5 p.m., according to the lawsuit. “Sounds of commotion” were also transmitted on the radio, the lawsuit states, and Ricks’ voice “sounded hurried and higher pitched.”
UTA employees failed to respond to the distress signal, according to the lawsuit.
After the father and son kidnapped Ricks, they drove to Wyoming.
DJ Harrison would later say in a Wyoming courtroom that they forced Ricks out of the truck and tied his hands behind his back before shoving him in the back of the maintenance truck.
They eventually stopped near a dirt road in the desert of Wyoming, south of Kemmerer, where Flint Harrison slit Ricks’ throat and beat him to death.
After the killing, DJ Harrison said he and his father drove to Kemmerer, went through a drive-thru to get food and continued on to Pinedale before they were captured by police.
Ricks’ wife is asking for an undisclosed amount of money for funeral expenses and other losses, as well as punitive damages. UTA officials said Tuesday that they have not yet received the lawsuit and declined to comment further.
Lorie Ricks also is suing DJ Harrison and his father’s estate. Flint Harrison died in 2016 after he hanged himself in the Davis County jail, according to authorities.
DJ Harrison is serving a life sentence in Wyoming after pleading guilty to the crimes. He also was given a life sentence in federal court for the killing and sentenced to up to life in prison in Utah for an unrelated kidnapping before Ricks’ death.