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SLC 5-year-old 'saved' by piggyback ride from sister when SUV slams into them

Posted at 7:17 PM, Sep 21, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — A 5-year-old boy and his sister are out of the hospital, and their family says the two are lucky to be alive after an SUV hit both of them in a crosswalk in Salt Lake City.

READ: 2 children critically injured in Salt Lake City accident

The family credits the way the 14-year-old girl was carrying her brother with saving his life.

Tuesday morning, a large sign sat on 400 South near Goshen Street that read: "PEDESTRIAN CROSSING... SLOW DOWN, USE CAUTION."

"I noticed this morning too, they put up this electric sign over here," said Justin Strange, a bicyclist who rode past the sign.

A newly painted crosswalk faced the sign, along with traffic barricades.

The paint, sign and barricades weren't there one day earlier, when an SUV driving down 400 South hit the two children.

Strange, who lives just down the street, explained that crews repaved the road around a month back, but never repainted the crosswalk.

"That's pretty incompetent to take out a crosswalk on a really busy street," Strange said. "That's not even enough as it is, but to take that out, and if those kids didn’t get hit, then this probably would have never been put in.”

Family members say the 14-year-old sister was giving a piggyback ride to her 5-year-old brother as they walked across the street toward their home. Family said the two were walking back to grab a jacket that the boy forgot to bring to school.

They looked both ways, the family member said, then began to cross. Family members described the SUV as coming up fast and hitting the two in the middle of the road.

The 14-year-old was tossed across the road, suffering a fractured knee and tibia, torn MCL and ACL, broken pinky, and road rash from head to toe.

Family said the 5-year-old boy went through the SUV's windshield, and landed in the passenger seat. He broke his collar bone, occipital bone, and suffered deep cuts all over his head, face, and hands.

Both were hit with such force that neither sibling remembers the accident or moments after, the family said.

While the two are now home, they face a long recovery ahead.

In the meantime, Salt Lake City Police said Tuesday they are still investigating the driver for possible impairment. They have not issued any citations or made arrests.

City workers promptly showed up Monday to paint crosswalk lines. Tuesday morning, the electronic sign and barricades appeared.

A city spokesperson told FOX 13 Monday that they are awaiting the full results of the accident investigation, and they expect to figure out potential safety measures to put in place in the days and weeks to come.

"These poor kids got hit by a car, like we called it, like it was bound to happen sooner or later," Strange said.

For people like him, the safety measures are too little too late.

"They definitely dropped the ball," he said of the city. "It's pretty unfortunate."

Family members have set up a GoFundMe to help with medical expenses for the brother and sister.