SANDY, Utah (ABC4) — A Jordan High School sophomore died Friday afternoon, Jan. 27 after officials say she was struck by a Canyon School District school bus along State Street.

Jordan High Principal Bruce Eschler identified the student Friday night as Jennifer Florez Diaz, 15.

The Sandy City Police Department received the call at about 1 p.m. and determined that Diaz was a pedestrian unrelated to the students on the bus. She was declared dead at the scene from her injuries.

Police said they believe the bus was facing eastbound on Princeton, making a left-hand turn to go north on State Street. The bus driver and 16 students from Hillcrest High were on the bus when it hit Diaz.

“Sometimes we just get into the habit of driving on autopilot, and we fail to pay attention to small things going on.” Sand Police Sgt. Greg Moffit said, “Especially in the wintertime, we don’t have a lot of pedestrians. As a driver, you have to be incredibly vigilant. “

Moffit stated that he didn’t know the exact placement of Diaz as she crossed the street, or whether she was in the crosswalk or not.

Eschler said in a press release Friday night that Jordan High is planning to provide as many resources as it can to grieving students.

“As a school community, we want parents, students, and staff to know that we will have counseling personnel and bereavement support resources on hand Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the counseling office and Monday morning when school resumes after the weekend,” the principal stated. “A student death can generate strong feelings of anxiety and distress as students process the tragic news and struggle to cope with their grief. If you feel your student needs to speak to a guidance counselor, teacher, or adult, please contact the Jordan High Administration, or drop by our Main Office on Monday.

Students also have access to licensed counselors at the University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute via the mobile app, SafeUT.

A witness to the accident, Norman Jessup, said he was leaving a job site heading southbound on State Street when he saw the bus heading north. He said he watched Diaz walking across the road when she got caught halfway through the bus’s turn. She was dragged underneath the bus, and Jessup jumped out of his car to stop the driver.

“I thought I was in danger of being hit by the bus because I ran in front of him to stop him.” Jessup said, “He didn’t have a clue. He had no idea what had happened, and I feel sorry for him. I had to yell at him and get him to back off of her.”

But at that point, Jessup said he saw her and knew she had passed away.

“It was too late. I look back at it and wish there was something I could have done.” Jessup said, “[…]She was too young. When we see things like this happen, it’s just heartbreaking.”  

Canyons School District Superintendent Dr. Rick Robins released a statement regarding the incident.

The loss of any child — at any time — is heartbreaking for a community. Today, the entire Canyons District community mourns the tragic passing of one of our beautiful and cherished students who died in an auto-pedestrian accident involving a school bus.” Robins said, “Canyons District sends our heartfelt condolences to the family of the student, as well as the student’s friends, teachers, and school staff who will struggle with the pain and loss of a loved one.

A student death certainly can prompt feelings of anxiety or distress as peers try to cope with grief.  We ask parents to talk with their children about their emotions and reach out to the school or the District Office if they need additional help to support their student.” Robins said, “This is a difficult time for all of us, and we express our appreciation for the support that has already been shown to our school community.”

Dr. Rick Robins

Signs of Grieving in Children and Adolescents

  • Sadness, anxiety, chronic fatigue, anger, denial, shock, confusion, extended depression.
  • Inability to sleep, nightmares, loss of appetite, prolonged fear of being alone.
  • Frequent physical complaints such as stomachaches and headaches.

Tips for Helping a Child Discuss and Overcome Grief

  • Answer their questions simply and honestly. Don’t overload them with information.
  • Give them a chance to talk about their fears and validate their feelings. Offer a simple expression of sorrow and take time to listen.
  • People are repetitive in their grief. Respond patiently to their uncertainty and concerns. It can take a long time to recover from a loss.
  • Adolescents can be physical in their grief. Watch their bodies and look for any changes.
  • Some adolescents need to talk about a traumatic experience all the time and others don’t want to talk at all. This is normal. While it is important not to force adolescents to talk about their experiences, it is also critical for parents to let them know they are willing and available to listen.
  • Giving adolescents choices helps them feel some control when their environment has felt out of control.
  • Parents will want to establish daily routines as soon as they can. Meals, bedtimes and other regular parts of their day can help adolescents feel comforted and know what to expect.
  • Sometimes students react to trauma and stress with anger. They may feel it gives them a sense of control. Adults should be understanding but hold adolescents responsible for their behavior.