STOP FOR STUDENTS

American Fork PD struggling to find crossing guard for intersection with close calls

Nov 10, 2022, 2:25 PM | Updated: Nov 3, 2023, 4:05 pm

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — American Fork police said they’re having a hard time filling a crosswalk position near one of the busiest intersections at the junior high school. Kids and parents said they’ve seen several close calls where cars almost hit students because of it.

When kids walk west from American Fork Junior High School, they end up at a four-way stop at 1120 North and 150 West. Pedestrian lanes connect all four corners, with white crossing lines sprawling across the north and west parts of the intersection.

On Wednesday, a swarm of kids braved a storm as they all left school, all at once.

Huge groups of students crowded the corners of the intersection, while cars began to stack up in every direction. Drivers figured out whose turn it was to go, while also watching for where kids were crossing.

Some kids ran across. At one point, a driver honked as two girls hesitated to keep walking in the crosswalk.

“It is an absolute disaster,” Mandy Douglas said.

Her two boys walk to school and use those crosswalks nearly every day, telling her what they see. Some days, she drives them to or from school and sees it herself.

“The kids don’t know when to cross, the cars don’t know when to go,” she said.

She noted that there has been no crossing guard at that spot this school year, when there has been one stationed there in the past. The whole setup creates confusion that Douglas worries will have catastrophic consequences.

On Tuesday, she witnessed a couple of near-misses.

“One car almost hit two kids. And then as I turned around and came back through the intersection, the same thing happened — another car almost hit another kid,” she recounted.

Her two sons, American Fork Junior High eighth grader Chad and ninth grader Bryson, see those situations daily.

“I’ve seen kids that have gotten inches away from getting hit,” Chad said.

He and Bryson described having to be extra careful when crossing.

“It makes me feel scared, like, am I going to get hit? Like, I don’t want to be hit,” Chad said.

Douglas said she called the American Fork Police Department on Tuesday after seeing the two cars almost hit children to ask why there is no longer a crossing guard at one of the busiest intersections near the school.

She said they told her they’ve had the job posting up since the beginning of school but haven’t had any luck filling the spot.

“We just have not been able to fill this one this year. It’s been a battle for sure,” Lt. Josh Christensen said.

Christensen explained how they’ve done everything to advertise to the community and through the school. He said they posted the position on their website and social media and had the school email all parents. A community council made up of parents also tried to recruit, he indicated.

But no one has applied.

He knows the job isn’t always fun to work and requires being out in the rain or snow like on Wednesday, but Christensen said the safety of the children is what all of them want more than anything.

“It’s a visible person with a visible sign and a bright vest, to just remind drivers, ‘Oh okay, there’s somebody in the crosswalk. I need to stop,'” he said.

American Fork police officers have tried to fill the role themselves when they can, but Christensen said they often have to prioritize other police calls. The school resource officer has also stepped in, but Christensen said it then pulls that officer away from the school.

Once Douglas found out the work the police department has been doing to try to fill the spot, she decided to help get the word out. She would sign up herself, but said it’s not a possibility right now because of her work schedule.

But Douglas hopes someone else will step up.

“I’ve lived in another neighborhood and two of the kids were hit because there was no crosswalker at that point,” she said.

She said it took those two kids getting hit before something was done to make the intersection safer.

“I just don’t want that to happen here.”

Christensen said the crossing guard position is paid, it’s only twice a day for about 45 minutes.

Anyone interested in signing up can click here.

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American Fork PD struggling to find crossing guard for intersection with close calls