West Jordan community comes together to remember 13-year-old hit, killed by drunk driver

Apr 26, 2023, 6:27 PM | Updated: Apr 27, 2023, 9:14 am

WEST JORDAN, Utah — Ribbons can mean all sorts of things — like graduations, job promotions or welcome homes. On Wednesday, though, they meant a West Jordan family wasn’t alone.

“It’s just amazing. People are amazing. There is so much good,” said Lisa Mitchell.

Today could’ve been a day Lisa was dreading. It is the one-year mark since her son, Eli, was hit and killed by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle in a crosswalk at 1510 West and 9000 South in West Jordan.

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However, her neighbors tied hundreds of ribbons to trees, lamp posts and signs to celebrate Eli’s life.

“When something like this hits your community, but you are not in the immediate family, you feel like you need to do something,” said Carissa Maher, a neighbor who helped organize the ribbon effort.

There was also a ceremony to remember Eli at the intersection where he died, which included West Jordan’s mayor, firefighters, and others who knew and loved Eli.

It’s the boost the family didn’t know they needed.

“Just having people remember him and talk about him is so helpful. It is so helpful,” Lisa said. “So, to see that so many people are willing to put forth that much effort, it takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to live with losing a child, for sure.”

It also takes a village to try and prevent these crashes from happening again.

Traffic safety managers from across Utah were part of a conference this week talking about how to make roads safer.

So far this year, 73 people have died on Utah roads. Many of them are because of impaired drivers.

“The goal here, especially in our conference, is to achieve zero fatalities on the road. It’s not a pie in the sky goal. We believe it is truly achievable because these crashes are preventable,” said Jason Mettmann, the communications manager for Utah’s Highway Safety Office.

Eli would still be here today if a driver made a decision to not drink and drive.

For Eli’s family, though, he will always be in their hearts.

“I sort of feel this obligation to be his little companion on Earth, to keep his light shining bright for as long as I can,” his mother said. “So that is what I will do.”

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West Jordan community comes together to remember 13-year-old hit, killed by drunk driver