Family of teen killed by distracted drivers calls for more awareness as Utah enters ‘100 Deadliest Days’

Posted at 7:33 PM, May 25, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Utah Highway Patrol launched their "100 Deadliest Days" campaign Thursday to encourage drivers to be safe and aware this summer.

The annual campaign goes from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend, a period of time when troopers say Utah roads see an average of one death per day.

This weekend they will be adding 450 extra troopers to the roads to crack down on drivers who are intoxicated, aggressive, drowsy or distracted. They will also be on the lookout for folks who are not wearing their seat belts.

The Morris family is launching the campaign with them this year because they lost their 17-year-old daughter, BaiLee DiBernardo, to distracted drivers on January 11, 2016. Her stepfather had just dropped her off for school at Layton High School that morning.

“On January 11th, 2016 my daughter was crossing this crosswalk with a friend,” said Bailee’s mother, Kristina Morris. “It was about 7:24 in the morning. The cars on the west side of the road had stopped for them. A gentleman was leaving Gold's Gym, as he turned onto Fort Lane his protein drink fell onto his passenger side, and he decided to lean over and pick it up, and, not paying attention, he hit my daughter and her friend."

Morris said two other vehicles were in the vicinity.

"Car two was paying attention and being responsible behind the wheel: He merged to miss her," she said. "Car three was talking to her passenger and was not paying attention, and she said she saw laundry on the side of the road and she decided to center on her. After hitting my daughter, she continued to drag her over 50 yards down the road. My daughter, she lost her life that morning because of those people's decision. Her friend lived, but she did not."

The family hopes BaiLee's story will serve as a reminder to Utahns to pay attention while driving.

“I'm sharing her story in hopes that I can bring awareness to distracted driving: that it is a real issue that we all need to take a look at how we are acting behind the wheel," Morris said.

A beautiful floral wreath hangs near the crosswalk where DiBernardo was hit and killed. Since that tragic morning, more crosswalk signs and lights have been added to the area across the street from Layton High School.

Troopers said 94 percent of all fatal crashes on Utah roads are preventable. They said four people were killed on Utah roads during Memorial Day weekend in 2016.