‘He would want me to be brave’: Heartbroken parents share stories of teenagers lost on Utah roads

Local (Utah/State News)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A somber remembrance of 27 teenagers who lost their lives on Utah roads last year was held Wednesday at the Marmalade Library.

The victims’ parents sharing their stories so that no other family should have to go through the loss of a child in a car accident.

“Our son would probably be here if he had his seatbelt on,” Kirk Smith said about his son Keaton who died in a rollover crash.  

Heartbroken parents shared stories that are difficult to hear…and even harder to tell.

“Olivia May Rodgerson was a good student,” her father Scott said about the Hillcrest High sophomore who died August 22nd, 2018 following a June 15th accident. “She was a good athlete. A good dancer and more importantly a good person.”

Staci Stout’s voice trembled as she recalled the notification of the death of her son Baylor.

“I will forever hear the words of the emergency room doctor as he said ‘Your son was in a very serious car accident and has died’,” Stout said. 

13-year-old Baylor Stout passed away after the pickup truck he was riding in was hit head-on near Birdseye, Utah on July 22nd of last year. The other driver, 31-year-old Kali Shae Hardman was impaired at the time of the crash.

“She had high levels of marijuana THC in her blood. She was sentenced to serve only 7 months for the death of my child,” Staci said. “She will be released next month and knowing that she will be able to just move on with her life.”

Meanwhile, Staci is serving a life sentence of pain but she’s determined to keep her son’s memory alive.

“Baylor was fun-loving and kind,” she told ABC4 News. “He made friends with everyone and he was close to a lot of people that truly cared about him…He would want me to be brave and share his story…He would be pretty proud of our family and how we have tried to come through this tragedy,” adding “What I hope is that other families don’t have to suffer how we have suffered.”

Wednesday’s event was the 12th annual Teen Memoriam held by the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Highway Patrol. Officials say they hope that one year in the near future they won’t have to hold this event at all.

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