A year later, heartbroken parents say pedestrian deaths must stop

Oct 3, 2023, 11:29 PM | Updated: Oct 4, 2023, 9:23 am

BLUFFDALE — One Utah couple knows firsthand the impact of distracted driving.

Over a year after their son was hit and killed by a driver, they say these kinds of crashes have to stop.

Fifteen months later, and now there’s nothing left along 11400 South, near 2200 West to show what happened that July day when police say 43-year-old Shantil Woods Garn dragged Brayden Long and his friend Anthony Sandoval 60 yards until the boys were thrown into the curb on the side of the road.

Brayden died later that day.

“It’s an open wound,” his parents Dan Long and Clark Monk told KSL TV. “It’s an open wound. It will never go away.”

His parents are heartbroken as they talk about it.

“Our house is not the same, it’s not full of laughter like it used to be,” Long said. And they know they’re not alone, that this year other families have received the same bad news.

“This year, yes we’ve seen a decrease in pedestrian fatalities,” said John Gleason, public relations director for UDOT. “But is it enough, no.”

Gleason said six kids between ages 5 and 18 have been killed in auto-pedestrian crashes this year. That is down from last year. But he’s quick to point out, even one is too many.

“I can tell you the numbers have improved, but if you’re a family member that’s lost a loved one, those numbers don’t mean anything,” Gleason said.

That’s definitely true for Brayden’s family.

“You never heal, you learn how to live differently and you learn how to live with sadness,” Monk said.

They still miss Brayden every day, and mourn the life they had together and the one they looked forward to sharing with him in the future.

“He’ll never be able to see the magic in this world,” Long said.

Their message is simple and powerful: put down phones and pay attention to the road.

“If we all did it together, it could have an impact, that’s right everyone has to do it.”

Gleason said October is traditionally the deadliest month of the year for auto-pedestrian crashes.

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A year later, heartbroken parents say pedestrian deaths must stop