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Families grieve over loved ones killed in road rage incidents

Posted at 11:26 AM, Jul 20, 2023

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah — Tragic incidents of road rage have shattered the lives of countless families across the nation.

WATCH: FOX 13 News presents "Driven to Change: Rooting Out Road Rage

For those who lose a loved one in a crash caused by aggressive driving, the pain and trauma persist long after the event.

Now, these families are coming forward, sounding the alarm, and calling for stricter rules and increased responsibility for drivers on the road.

One heartrending story is that of Rodney Salm, a young man known for his positivity, big heart, and love for cars.

Born as the youngest of five siblings, Rodney had a passion for the family aerospace business and was a car enthusiast.

Michelle Salm, Rodney's sister, fondly remembers him and the last words she spoke to him on June 4.

"The last thing I said to him was I love you, be safe," Michelle recalled.

Tragically, Rodney and his girlfriend, Misha, lost their lives when two unrelated drivers engaged in a dangerous road rage incident, leading to a fatal crash.

Michelle expressed her grief and frustration, saying, "They were going for miles. They could have stopped, they could have said, you know what, this probably isn't a safe thing to do.”

The devastating aftermath of road rage incidents leaves families grappling with immense emotional and financial burdens.

Fortunately, support organizations like Utah Homicide Survivors, run by Brandon Merrill and Maria Blanchard, are stepping up to help those affected.

"We host group therapy sessions, connect people with victim advocates, and assist them through difficulties with the justice system," said Maria Blanchard.

Recognizing the lack of resources available for homicide-related trauma, the organization offers a safe space for families to seek support and understanding.

For Brandon Merrill, the fight for safer roads became personal when his cousin, Chris Mortensen, was killed in a road rage incident on October 26.

Now he faces the challenges he has helped others navigate, supporting his own grieving family through their loss.

Understanding the underlying causes of road rage is complex, and it is essential to remember that the victims are not to blame.

”You can't choose how somebody is going to react or show their anger," said Brandon Merrill, emphasizing the need for empathy and compassion.

Maria Blanchard stressed the importance of empathy within victim circles, emphasizing that understanding the pain of those affected can be invaluable during the healing process.

Michelle Salm hopes that sharing her brother's story will encourage people to be more responsible behind the wheel.

"When we decide to get into our cars and drive somewhere, I think we have to leave our ego outside of the vehicle," she urged. "We all need to take care of each other because we are all in this world together.”

As families affected by road rage incidents advocate for safer roads and responsible driving, their united voices resonate in the hope of preventing similar tragedies in the future.