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Toddler dies after being run over in driveway

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Imagine Wissiup, 2, died Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, when she was run over by her aunt in the driveway of her grandmother's home in Fort Duchesne, Uintah County.

Imagine Wissiup, 2, died Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, when she was run over by her aunt in the driveway of her grandmother’s home in Fort Duchesne, Uintah County.

Wissiup family

FORT DUCHESNE, Uintah County — Imagine Wissiup's birthday presents had already been purchased.

"We bought her birthday presents last month," her grandmother Bettina Wissiup said Friday.

Imagine, who would have celebrated her third birthday Oct. 30, won't get to open her presents though. She died about 4 p.m. Thursday after she was run over in the driveway of her grandmother's home by her aunt.

Jamie Marie Wissiup, 23, believed her niece and her 5-year-old daughter were safely inside her 2005 Dodge Durango when she began to drive forward in the driveway, said Uintah County Undersheriff John Laursen.

Imagine, however, either never made it inside the sport-utility vehicle or tried to get back out and was run over, Laursen said.

The girl was taken by ambulance to Uintah Basin Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

"She was real quiet, kind of shy," Bettina Wissiup said. "But if you knew her like we did, she would be playful and always hugging and laughing."

Imagine liked to play with dolls and My Little Pony toys, according to her obituary. She also enjoyed jumping on the trampoline, playing with makeup and nail polish, and watching Disney's princess movies, her family said.

The little girl's death comes less than a month after a Cache County boy was accidentally run over by his mother. The 4-year-old boy suffered only scrapes and bruises in the Sept. 27 incident.

Like Imagine, not all children are so lucky.

The most recent numbers compiled by the state Department of Health show that between 1997 and 2009, there were 790 Utah children run over. In 57 cases, the child died.

Statistics from the same period show that children between the ages of 2 and 3 are most likely to be run over, followed closely by kids between the ages of 4 and 5.

"No. 1, they are very active," Janet Brooks, child advocacy manager for Primary Children's Medical Center, told the Deseret News after the Cache County incident.

"They are exploring. They are quick, and largely they do not perceive the risks that perhaps an older child would," Brooks said.

Public health officials point to another common trait in this type of incident:

"This is something that is preventable," Brooks said in September. "It's not a stroke of luck. It's not fate. It's not Mother Nature. It's our behavior. So if we are ever-diligent in developing safety habits and safety behaviors, most of these can be prevented."

The circumstances surrounding Imagine's death are still under investigation, but Laursen said preliminary evidence indicates it was "a tragic accident."

"At this time we don't foresee any charges at all," the undersheriff said.

Regardless of whether criminal charges are filed, Bettina Wissiup said the family is devastated by her granddaughter's death. The tragedy has been particularly hard on Imagine's aunt.

"She said, 'I don't want everybody to hate me,''' Bettina Wissiup said, her voice breaking with emotion.

"I said, 'Nobody hates you. I was an accident,' and she said, 'I know, but I feel everybody hates me.'"

Funeral services for Imagine are set for Monday.

Geoff Liesik, Twitter: GeoffLiesik