UTAH COUNTY (ABC4) – With 10 fatal crashes in just the last four days, 2021 officially reached the deadliest year on Utah roads in at least the last five years. The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) reported that as of Sunday, there has been 263 fatalities year-to-date — 20 more than last year. Two of the lives lost from the weekend were Season Dow, a beloved teacher at Brookhaven Elementary and her 16-year-old son, Toby.
“Every time we talk about numbers, you have to look at the stories behind those numbers. When we’re talking about young people, teens that have been killed in the last week or so, you think about all that potential that was lost. You think about their heartbroken families and how that’s going to change those families forever,” said John Gleason with the Utah Department of Transportation.
Family members tell ABC4 that Dow and her son were heading home from the Andrea Bocelli concert in Salt Lake City, when they ran out of gas on I-15 near Orem. That’s when an alleged drunk driver hit both of them at full speed, killing Season instantly. Loved ones say Toby died two days later, after fighting for his life in the hospital. Troopers arrested the suspect, who is currently facing charges of vehicular homicide and DUI.
“It’s just a horrible loss and it’s so unfair, so unneeded, so unnecessary, because of a senseless mistake that somebody made […] We just are going to miss them. We’re never going to be able to replace them,” said Duane Crabtree, Season’s brother-in-law.
Crabtree said Dow moved from Florida to Utah with her three children and continued to pursue her passion of teaching. Although she had only been at Brookhaven for a few months, he said he learned her impact and influence traveled far, referring to numerous Facebook posts left by her students’ parents. As for Toby, his uncle-in-law said he aspired to be a blacksmith.
“Toby just loved trying new things. He was so adventurous. When he got here to Utah, we’d go hiking together and he’d go on bike rides with me,” said Crabtree. “He was just adventurous and loved learning. He was so happy, so sensitive, and caring for everybody. He was concerned for others’ needs and always looking out for them.”
UDOT said there’s a number of contributing factors leading to the uptick in fatal crashes. In addition to drunk driving, they’re seeing speeding, road rage, wrong-way, drowsy, distracted driving, and more.
“Aggravation, frustration — all of that is understandable. But you have to make sure that when you’re behind the wheel, you’re putting all of that behind you and focusing on the road ahead,” said Gleason.
With winter weather on the way, troopers fear the numbers will only get worse.
“Poor weather conditions are going to exaggerate poor driving habits. So ultimately, yeah, it’s something that we’re going to watch very close,” said Sgt. Cameron Roden with Utah Highway Patrol.
While trying to make sense of this tragic loss, Crabtree is urging the public to drive responsibly and take steps everyday to make the roads a safe place.
“We’re controlling a powerful machine that kills people when it’s not controlled properly,” he said. “Remember that under no circumstances should we ever drive drunk or distracted.”
A GoFundMe has been created to help the Dow family with medical and funeral expenses. If you would like to donate, visit their fundraiser here.