RIVERTON (ABC4 News) – Valentine’s Day has been a deadly day for the last four years in the state of Utah.
Zero Fatalities tells ABC4 News, at least one person has died each year on Utah Roads since 2015.
To say Thursday will be an emotional one for Chris Hathaway’s family is an understatement.
“It has been a whirlwind of emotions,” said Hathaway.
Last year he lost his son Bryson Hathaway in a crash he suspects was caused by distracted driving.
“I feel like my son was on his way to pick me up and he dropped his phone in the back seat, and instead of coming to a stop and putting it in park or stopping at a red light, he wanted to reach back and get his cellphone so he could call his dad or girlfriend,” said Hathaway. “When we are distracted. We are not understanding the surroundings around us.”
Bryson was killed after police say his car slammed into the back of a stopped school bus at 126th South Bangerter Highway. Detectives believe it appears Bryson never saw the stopped bus.
John Gleason with the Utah Department of Transportation says, “No one should have a broken heart tomorrow on Valentine’s Day.”
For the last four years, officials with Zero Fatalities says Utah had five deadly crashes on Valentine’s Day.
In 2015, a driver getting on Legacy Parkway missed a turn and ran off the road.
In 2016, and 84-year-old woman lost control of her car and hit a barrier.
In 2017, UDOT crews dealt with two crashes where a driver went outside their lanes.
Then in 2018, Bryson’s crash happened.
That’s why zero fatalities are making a big push to get loved ones home safely.
“Not everyone drinks; not everyone is an aggressive driver, but we are all distracted. We have cell phones; we play with the radio. There are a million things that can take your focus off the road,” Gleason said.
State officials say distracted driving in 2018 played a major role in 17 traffic-related deaths.
Adding to that, officials say 27 teens were killed on the roadways – one of them being Bryson – who would have started college this year.
“We are all going to miss out on a lot of years that Bryson would have made a huge difference in today’s world,” said Hathaway. “He was a loving and caring person that put other people in front of himself.”
Bryson’s uncle Lieutenant Danny Allen with the Utah Highway Patrol doesn’t want this happening to another family.
“We get lucky a lot of times…it is just the one time where [for] some of us, that is all it takes, and it cost you everything,” he said.
That’s why Bryson’s family wants folks to keep family and friends accountable to avoid distracted driving and wear seatbelts.
Bryson’s dad just wants people to hug their family and friends while giving them this message, “Anytime you get a chance to say you love somebody, I think you should.”