STOP FOR STUDENTS

Plans for crosswalk traffic light expedited after 12-year-old hit while crossing

Oct 18, 2023, 10:34 PM | Updated: Nov 3, 2023, 4:21 pm

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A 12-year-old boy is in critical condition after a suspected DUI driver struck him in a crosswalk. The incident, which occurred at the intersection of 2200 East and Fort Union Boulevard Monday night, has drawn attention to an area both city officials and residents have called a problematic spot for some time.

Kim Steenblik, a resident of Cottonwood Heights, expressed her profound distress over the incident.

“My heart aches for this family as it is, and for anyone to have that happen to their child, it’s just heart-wrenching,” she said.

Steenblik has actively advocated for improved safety measures in the area through the state organization Safe Walking Routes. Her efforts have focused on the implementation of button-activated traffic signals, known as HAWK lights. She wonders if that could have helped the boy cross on Monday.

“At the time of the accident, that’s rush hour traffic and it is very busy at that time,” she said. “It’s just not safe for kids to cross there.”

Cottonwood Heights Mayor Mike Weichers said he and the city have had their eyes on that particular crosswalk for some time and are devastated by Monday’s tragedy.

“The young boy did everything he was supposed to. He had the flag, he was in the crosswalk. He was doing everything that he needed to do, and his life has been put into danger because of an impaired driver not stopping,” Weichers said.

Weichers said the installation of a light system has been a work in progress and has recently been expedited, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Utah Department of Transportation and the Wasatch Regional Council.

“We are in the engineering phase and design of getting that light installed, which is just tragic that it wasn’t able to be done just a little bit before this accident,” he said.

Although the $500,000 HAWK light system is expected to be operational by February or March, Weichers emphasizes the crucial role of responsible driving in preventing auto-pedestrian crashes.

“It’s time for people to make a change, and to not drive impaired, and to slow down,” he urges.

The incident involved a female driver who was arrested for DUI.

The mayor announced the recent recruitment of three police officers dedicated solely to traffic enforcement, in response to recent traffic-related incidents.

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Plans for crosswalk traffic light expedited after 12-year-old hit while crossing