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Officials plead for greater caution after three juveniles hit, killed by cars in one week

Posted at 7:25 PM, Dec 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-11 22:45:51-05

SALT LAKE CITY – Deaths in accidents involving pedestrians and vehicles are up this year, and transportation officials are reminding drivers and pedestrians to pay attention on the roads.

The Utah Department of Transportation says parents need to remind their children to wear bright-colored clothing when it's dark out, and that all people need to use designated crosswalks when they’re crossing the street.

There have been three fatal crashes involving pedestrians in the past week, all involving juveniles. The number of deaths resulting from automobile crashes is up to 43 so far this year. UDOT officials say it is just too many.

A 14-year-old boy from Payson–Adam Renik–was hit by two cars while he was crossing the street on his way to school.

“You know, I can only imagine what the mom’s thinking,” said neighbor Jordan Tanner. “Especially me having young kids and me being concerned for my own kids safety on this road.”

On Thursday afternoon, a five-year-old girl–Stella Ferrazzano–was hit and killed in Lehi while she was leaving preschool.

“Mom, when she was leaving the school, was holding the hand of the three-year-old and five-year-old and something happened and we don’t know what,” said Chief Jerry Craft with the Lehi Fire Department.

And Thursday night, a 16-year-old boy–Alan Larose–was killed while he was running across the road in Syracuse.

John Gleason with UDOT says the number of automobile-pedestrian deaths is climbing.

“This year, we’re at 43," he said. "Last year, we were at 37, and that was up significantly from years past, so we’re definitely not heading in the right direction and it’s cause for concern.”

He says it’s important for drivers to pay attention and for pedestrians to always use a crosswalk.

“Even if it’s not convenient, it’s just not worth the risk,” Gleason said.

He tells parents to remind their children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the road, to make sure they see them, and to wear bright-colored clothing when it’s dark out.

“You never want to assume that, just because you have the right-of-way, that they’re going to stop, because vehicles versus pedestrians, unfortunately, the pedestrian is always going to lose,” Gleason said.

Trooper Evan Kirby with the Utah Highway Patrol says it's equally important for drivers to be on the lookout.

“It’s important that people pay attention when they’re driving, especially this time of year when there’s more darkness than there is light,” Kirby said.

UDOT reminds drivers to put down any distractions when they’re driving, including smart phones and other devices. They say never text and drive, never drink and drive, and always stay alert when you’re on the road.