Matthew Mancil is a 12 year-old autistic boy from Clinton, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City and like many with autism, his interests tend to be obsessive. In Matthew’s case that obsession is with trains.
The summer day camp he attends at nearby Meadows Park is well suited to Matthew. It is adjacent to a railroad line where Matthew stands every day with his train schedule in hand, waiting to wave at the passing trains and flap his arms to encourage the crew to sound their whistle for him as they pass. But last Thursday to his delight, one of the trains didn’t just pass by, it stopped and the conductor climbed down to visit with him having noticed him there greeting his train every day.
Matthew’s parents Aaron and Rebecca Mancil say that trains have always been a way of connecting with their son, autistic persons tend to be very introverted, but he loves to talk about trains with anyone. Rebecca has painted a train mural on the wall of the bedroom door which bears a sign proclaiming it to be the room of “train conductor Matthew,” and they would like to tell that conductor how much his act of kindness meant to them.
“It was just great to see how nice the guy was,” Aaron Mancil said. “Stopping a train isn’t the easiest thing, but he took a couple of minutes out of his day to help my son, and man, it was all my son could talk about. He had to call up everyone he knew and talk about it.”
“It really touched us,” he continued. “We couldn’t be happier. We would love to know who the train conductor was who did it and just give him a big hug and say thank you because it may not have been a big deal to him, but it was a big deal to us. Matthew will always remember this and he’ll probably be talking about this for the next two or three years.”
Union Pacific officials have been contacted in an effort to identify the conductor who brightened Matthew’s day. While they say it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, they will make every effort to find the man so that Aaron and Rebecca can thank him and make him aware of how much his selfless act meant to their son.
Watch a report from KSL-TV below.