SALT LAKE CITY -- Halloween is meant for fun and scary costumes, but the scariest part of Halloween is not fun at all, like when drivers are not paying attention to where trick-or-treaters are walking.
Two years ago on Halloween night, a family nearly lost their father, two children and niece. The children were twin 3-year-olds and the niece was only 1.5 at the time.
A driver was trying to turn left at 400 East and 2100 South in Salt Lake City. The family’s father, Keith Simmons, was walking in front pulling a red wagon with all three kids sitting inside of it; Eleanor, Fredrick, and the niece, Tovah.
The mother was a few steps behind when that driver ran over her family.
“He just saw a break in the traffic here and gunned it to make the break right into my family,” Anna Simmons said.
She was pulled in multiple directions, not knowing who to help first: her husband, her daughter, her son, or her niece.
“All three babies spilled out of the wagon, hit the pavement pretty hard,” Anna Simmons said.
They were all taken away in a medical ambulance. They have all since recovered from their serious but not life-threatening injuries. Except, Anna’s and Keith’s anxiety will probably never heal, they said.
“I am the mean mom that doesn’t even allow them to cross the streets,” Anna Simmons said. “They get the ten houses that are on our street, then they get to walk back home and that’s all they get. But they are 5 now so they don’t complain. I don’t know what I am going to do when they are 10”
The Simmons family is working with UDOT and its Zero Fatalities campaign to educate parents about pedestrian safety.
UDOT reports in the last five years, pedestrian fatalities have gone up 25 percent. They also said October is the deadliest month for vehicle crashes because of low visibility earlier in the evening.
“We need to do everything we can to make sure our kids our protected,” said UDOT spokesperson John Gleason. “Almost every Halloween you see where trick or treaters are severely injured or killed as a result of being struck by vehicles.”
Gleason wants parents to talk with their kids before they trick-or-treat.
“Have a conversation with them: Just because you have the right of way doesn’t mean that drivers are going to stop; doesn’t mean drivers are going to see you," he said.
He also said reflective gear is critical. He encouraged the use of flashlights, glow sticks and Halloween accessories with reflective materials.
Anna Simmons also has a message for drivers.
“People will be coming home from work during trick-or-treat hours, and when people go the same route that they have gone 1,000 times, they go on auto pilot and I just want them to be so vigilant because there will be so many more kids than there are usually, she said.