SALT LAKE CITY — Parents who have lost teenagers on Utah roads are warning drivers and pedestrians to slow down and pay attention to the rules of the road.
The stories are numerous, but they're never any easier to hear as anyone with a new or teenage driver can relate to the anxiety often felt when their child gets behind the wheel and drives away from home.
But a teenagers sense of independence and invincibility can lead young drivers to make mistakes.
Speeding is the most common culprit, with 43 teens losing their lives on Utah roads from 2019 through 2020
Chaz Groat was already an accomplished race car driver and on a road just a short distance from his home when the unthinkable became a real life nightmare for his parents when their son died on New Year’s Eve day last year.
“It’s a road he knew well, going around the corner, due to his speed he hit a curb, lost control and put him into oncoming traffic where he was hit,” said Chuck Groat, Chaz's father. "It can happen to anyone, the blink of an eye. The few seconds of adrenaline of speeding is not worth your life or someone else’s life.”
Other fatalities are teen pedestrians like 13-year-old Grayson Buck who was hit by a car while crossing Redwood Road nearly one year ago. He was walking to school early in the morning, wearing dark clothing and not in a crosswalk even though there was a pedestrian bridge a quarter-mile away.
“It was one bad decision and it ended everything and shattered our lives forever,” said Grayson's mother, Dusty.
The Utah Highway Patrol teamed with the Utah Department of Transportation and the Zero Fatalities campaign to put together a "Memories of You" teen memorial, a reminder that tragic accidents can and do happen.