PROVO, Utah — Two siblings and a driver of a vehicle died in Provo Monday morning after an SUV drove onto the sidewalk, hitting the children who were walking to school.
The incident happened near 700 North and 800 East at 8:06 a.m. when police said a white SUV traveling westbound crossed into the eastbound lanes for an unknown reason.
A 9-year-old-girl and her 10-year-old brother were walking on the sidewalk when they were hit by the car, which then hit crashed into and ruptured a nearby gas line, which was quickly repaired. It also crashed into a house.
The driver of the SUV, identified as 59-year-old Darren Albertson, and both children were taken to the hospital where all three were pronounced dead.
The two children were walking to Wasatch Elementary School when they were hit.
“Obviously, it’s tragic. It’s unfortunate that it could ever happen to anybody, but have two of our students walking to school, excited for the day, it’s just a sad day for everybody,” said Caleb Price, spokesperson for the Provo City School District.
A Crisis Response Team was dispatched to the school by district officials to work with students and staff in helping them deal with the deaths.
"These young people were part of a classroom; they were going to be in school today, and now they're not," said Capt. Brian Taylor with the Provo City Police Department.
An investigation into why Albertson left his lane and hit the children is currently underway.
"Having two children from the same family lose their lives while walking to school is a bitter kind of tragedy. Yes, we have dealt with fatal traffic accidents before, not one precisely like this. We're deeply moved," said Taylor.
Provo City officials said in a tweet they are "heartbroken at the tragic loss."
"Our community is grieving today," the tweet reads. "We are saddened to report that there was a serious accident with fatalities this morning. We are heartbroken at the tragic loss and our prayers go out to the families and friends at this difficult time."
Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi later spoke with FOX 13 News and told how she heard the crash while she was on a morning hike.
“I actually was up on the shoreline [trail] and I heard it, and then within probably 20 seconds... I saw the commotion and I watched the fire truck," Kaufusi said. "Within a couple of seconds, my chief called and said, 'Mayor, we have a critical incident.'"
It's had a devastating impact on the community.
“This just doesn’t happen in Provo, and so today it hit all of us right in the heart," Kaufusi said. "Nobody would wish this anyone.”
Kort Anderson lives in the house that the vehicle crashed into. He felt the house shake, and he said it has also left him shaken up.
"I think about the kids that were at school and their classmates, and they’re expecting to see their friend that day and to find that they’re not going to be there today, not going to be there ever,” he said. "It’s just going to be a reminder every day of what happened and how quickly life can be taken.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family with funeral costs and other expenses.