TAYLORSVILLE — A car careening out of control hit and killed a young brother and sister and critically injured their 6-year-old brother as they played in their driveway Thursday evening.
A 9-year-old boy and his 4-year-old sister were pronounced dead at the scene, 6615 S. 1300 West. The second boy was airlifted to Primary Children's Medical Center in extremely critical condition.
Police had not released the names of the children by press time early this morning.
The 19-year-old driver, who was traveling south on 1300 West, was airlifted to LDS Hospital in critical condition. He was later upgraded to good condition, Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy Peggy Faulkner said. It appeared the driver was passing another car on the left just before 6 p.m. when his tire caught the left shoulder of the road, causing him to lose control and veer off the road and into the driveway where all three children were playing, Faulkner said. The man is expected to be booked into the Salt Lake County Jail after he is released from the hospital, Faulkner said.
All three children were "well off the street" when the car struck them, she said.
"It's tragic, very tragic," Faulkner said. "Most of us have kids, and then we have to go home, hug our own kids, and be thankful that they're OK."
The 9-year-old boy was trapped under the car, while his brother and sister were both thrown several feet into a neighboring yard by the impact. The car crashed through a small brick wall before coming to rest in the front yard of a nearby house.
Several neighbors and drivers in the area converged on the scene to try to help. Stephanie Bateman heard screaming as she was in her apartment across the street from the accident. Along with her roommates, she ran outside to find glass and rubble scattered around the crash site, where the car was smoking.
"It was chaos," she said.
Bateman noticed that the 9-year-old trapped under the car was obviously dead, and then saw the younger children lying nearby on the ground. She and her roommates grabbed some towels before she went over to help the 6-year-old.
Both of the boy's legs were broken. Bateman wrapped them to try to slow the bleeding until paramedics arrived, and then held his hands as paramedics worked on him.
"There were times when he just laid there and screamed, and then when he'd calm down he'd squeeze my hand and open his eyes," she said.
Witnesses to the accident said the driver seemed to be screaming hysterically after the accident. He was down on his knees, pulling his shirt over his head, they said.
After the accident, the children's mother had to be placed on a stretcher inside an ambulance as she struggled to cope with the tragic and chaotic scene. Other relatives were also very emotional while the police investigated the crash. Eventually, the mother was taken to Primary Children's to be with her son.
Other relatives of the children were also emotional as the sheriff's major accident team investigated the crash.
"She's devastated," Faulkner said of the mother. "Two of her children are gone and the other is in critical condition."
The car apparently crossed a double yellow line to pass another vehicle, Faulkner said. It was still unclear if the driver was speeding or impaired. The posted speed limit is 30 mph, but people living in the primarily residential area say cars frequently speed down the two-lane road.
Traffic between 3265 South and 6800 South was shut down in both directions on 1300 West. Police cars, firetrucks and ambulances from the various agencies clogged the street in front of the crash site, where yellow police tape surrounded the house and street and orange cones were scattered along the road and driveway to diagram the accident.
Faulkner said it was too early to say if any charges would be filed.
"At this point, we need to put all of the evidence together and figure out what happened," she said.
The children's family had moved into the neighborhood within the past few months, neighbors said.
"The kids were so polite," neighbor Penny Johnson said.
John Vandertoolen, whose family has lived in the area for more than 40 years, said that he has had several cars crash through his own fence.
"It's a dangerous area," he said.