Brother of teen killed in crash ‘can’t stay mad’ at driver, but wants others to pay attention

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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah -- Victor Zavala Vargas was waiting to hear from his younger brother Wednesday afternoon.

“I never got that phone call,” Victor said.

Instead, Victor got a call from police, who said his 15-year-old brother, Rodrigo Zavala Vargas, was a victim in a crash on Bangerter Highway.

“They said, 'Sorry to tell you this, but he died in the car crash,'” Victor said.

Police say Rodrigo was in the back seat of his aunt’s Dodge Neon, which was stopped at a stoplight near 2450 South when a 25-year-old Salt Lake City woman traveling at an estimated 50 mph crashed into their car.

“Three people were in the first car that was stopped," said Lt. Scott Buchanan of the West Valley City Police Department. "In the back seat was a 15 year old, believe he died nearly instantly at the scene."

“It's going to be hard without him now,” Victor said.

Police said it's a scene they see all too often.

“It only takes a second when you're distracted to have life changing consequences,” Buchanan said.

The driver that caused the crash told police she was distracted and was cleaning her glasses when she ran into the car.

Vargas said he doesn't want to dwell on that driver's actions, but he does have a plea for motorists everywhere.

He said: “It already happened. There's nothing I can do. I can't stay mad at what she did; I just want other people to pay attention to what they're doing."

John Gleason, a Utah Department of Transportation spokesman, said small actions can have a huge impact when you're behind the wheel.

“You take your eyes off the road for a second and it can have terrible consequences, and unfortunately this family that has lost a loved one, a child, and this one--they're going to have to live with these consequences the rest of their lives; it's heartbreaking,” he said.

Now, Rodrigo's family is calling for drivers to pay attention to the road.

“We don't want anyone else to go through this because, you know, we just lost our brother,” Victor said.

Police don't believe drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash, but they are waiting for toxicology reports before they decide on any charges.