Angry neighbors and parents living near Indian Hills Middle School gathered Friday morning at the crosswalk where Tommy Jensen, 12, was hit by a truck and killed while on his way to school early Thursday.
The Jensen boy died at 9:33 a.m. Thursday at Primary Children's Medical Center after being hit about 7:45 a.m. by a small pickup truck in an intersection at 11625 S. 1300 East near the school.Brian Jensen, 13, who was accompanying Tommy Jensen to the school (the boys are not related) was also hit and injured. He was taken to Alta View Hospital but later released, a nursing supervisor said.
Douglas Knight, 30, of Sandy, the driver of the pickup truck involved in the accident, was not cited, but police are still investigating. The victim was thrown approximately 135 feet from the point of impact.
"We'll try to do whatever possible to help increase children's safety in those areas," said Sandy Police Sgt. Ed L. Kantor. "We recognize that a lot could be done to improve school-crossing zones, but city officials have the ultimate say."
Sandy Mayor Lawrence P. Smith said he received several calls Friday morning from parents, "very concerned" over the accident.
"I think there is a great deal of frustration on both sides of the telephone when we have conversations. They want us to do things we legally can't do. So I share their frustration."
Parents Friday accused Sandy officials of refusing to provide sufficient safety traffic devices to save children's lives around school areas.
"I said someday one of our kids will get killed and then maybe you will do something, so my neighbor gets killed this morning . . . we just knew it would happen," said Barbara Peterson, who lives across the street from Tommy Jensen's home.
Several Jordan School District's crisis team members spent the day comforting students who witnessed the accident or were close to thevictim.
Parents said the school zone signs currently posted around the dangerous intersection are not enough and would like a traffic light at the intersection where the accident occurred. Their second choice would be a four-way stop or even flashing lights installed in the area.
But Sandy transportation officials have said flashing lights are seldom installed at middle or high school crossings because of a state regulation requiring an adult crossing guard to be on duty and because students at that age are expected to be cautious.
"They want a flashing light, but we can't put flashing lights up without a crossing guard," according to a recent state law, said Sandy Police Sgt. Pepper said. And middle school-age children are less likely to obey a crossing guard than are elementary school children. "They ignore him and do whatever they want," he said.
The 45 mph speed limit along the stretch of 1300 East near the middle school also aggravates the chances that a mishap between a motorist and a pedestrian will be more serious, he said.
But according to Smith, the state law that requires Sandy to comply with federal warrant standards, requires a "speed within the range of 45 mph."
"There is nothing we can do at this point. My philosophy is that as a governmental official I ought to be open and responsive to citizens, but the Legislature took this away from us in traffic related incidents," Smith said.
The mayor said said he is willing to meet with the citizens and discuss any measures to prevent further accidents from occurring.
Pepper agreed. "We mourn the loss of the child and feel deeply distressed by the accident. We'll try to do whatever possible to avoid accidents like this in the future."
But Pennie Birdsall, Indian Hills Middle School PTA president, said she feels the mayor isn't giving parents adequate support.
"We are going to take this to the mat. We will follow it through and we are not going to rest," she said. "We are not speaking only as a PTSA group; we are parents too. Parents have fought this problem for years."
Birdsall said she has talked with State PTA president Pat Hales to see what kind of support parents can get from the Legislature or other groups.
"We want to know exactly what this law does state and how we can change it."