Two years, three vigils, immeasurable grief, no answer

Local News

SYRACUSE, Utah (ABC4 News) – Three candle-light vigils, attended by hundreds of people, immeasurable grief for family and loved ones, numerous attempts to get answers. And still, two years later, one question hangs over the crosswalk at 1450 South 2000 West in Syracuse, Utah.

That’s where a 14-year-old boy was struck by a car, as he was crossing the street with two of his friends.
 It was just shy of 8:30 on the evening of April 17, 2017, when Dakota Kilburn was walking home from a fast-food restaurant at a nearby strip mall, where he and his two buddies had gotten ice cream.

The two boys, along with witnesses and police investigators, say Dakota crossed first. They also say most everyone at the intersection saw a four-door sedan coming, and not seeming to slow. The driver of the car 19-year-old Jace Stanton would tell police that evening he didn’t see the boys crossing, as he reached to change stations on his car radio. His statement indicated he swerved to miss two of the boys, and struck the boy ahead of them.

Dakota was propelled more than fifty feet, across the street and to the south, landing on the pavement and sliding under the front end of another car, which had stopped in the oncoming lane.

“There has been nothing resolved.” Those are the words of the boy’s grandfather, Bruce Maddox. He spoke with ABC4.com Friday. He and his wife, Pat, met me at the place where their grandson was struck. They said their daughter couldn’t speak publicly.

“Life is awful,” said Pat. “She’s shut down. She can’t work. She cries every day. She breaks down so often.”

Adding to their distress, say the family, is the frustration, as they continue to get answers about why the driver of the car that hit their youngest grandchild was not arrested and charged with a crime, or even cited for a traffic violation. They haven’t gotten any answers, they say. 

“We’ve called him several times,” says Bruce, “My wife has, and so has my daughter. My son-in-law had two appointments to go in and meet with him, but they were both canceled.”

Family members say what happened two years ago amounts to negligent homicide.

“At least a failure to yield, or distracted driving,” says grandmother Pat.

Police report the Syracuse indicates the boys were in the crosswalk when Dakota was hit. And even though one officer wrote in the report the car came to a stop about 100 yards away from the spot of the impact, the report goes on to say Stanton continued driving to a parking lot outside an auto parts store in a strip mall, where he parked, slightly less than one-third a mile from the scene.

What’s more, phone records submitted with the report indicate Stanton did not call 911 when he parked. Instead, he called his mother, before he went back to the scene of the collision. It was there, according to the report, that an officer at the scene interviewed Stanton, collected his statement and a blood sample, and called the county attorney’s office, to ask whether he should arrest Stanton. The officer reported he was told to release the driver of the car. 

The report indicates after the victim died, a detective went back to Stanton’s home, to interview him again. The detective wrote in his report Stanton claimed not to remember anything about the incident.

“I don’t remember,” Stanton is reported to have said. “Everything from that night is gone.”

Dakota’s family is left to wonder. But they show no signs they’re willing to give up.

When asked “At what point do you just write it off and give up and move on with your life?” The grieving grandfather’s response was immediate, short, and powerful, and it came with tears of pain and determination. “Never. How can you? No way. Every day, he’s. . . Never.”

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