LAYTON — Memorial Day weekend is upon us and so is the start of what the Utah Department of Transportation and Utah Highway Patrol call the "100 Deadliest Days" on Utah roadways.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, fatal crashes nearly double compared to the rest of the year. To mark the event, the mother of 17-year-old BaiLee DiBernardo, who was killed by two distracted drivers while walking in a crosswalk in 2016, talked to reporters.
Kristina Morris described BaiLee as a girl who, "Loved life... loved being around people and always was the life of the party." "She made life so enjoyable," Morris said.
DiBernardo should have been graduating from Layton High School next week. "That's hard, that makes when I get on Facebook and I see all these parents celebrating their children graduating from high school and going on to that next step in life," Morris said.
BaiLee won't get that opportunity. On Jan. 11, 2016, BaiLee and a friend were crossing the street at a crosswalk just blocks from home, right in front of the school, when a pickup truck pulled out of a parking lot.
"His protein shake had fallen and he had leaned over to get his protein drink and never saw them," Morris said.
A second driver saw what happened and pulled over. A third driver was talking to her passenger and did not see the accident.
"She (the third driver) said she saw something in the road and chose to center it on her. She centered it on her and even after she hit her she continued to drag her down the road over 50 yards," Morris said.
BaiLee's friend lived. But BaiLee lost her life, and Morris received the phone call no mom ever wants to receive. "Honestly I had thought it was a nightmare," she said.
Life is different now for Morris. "I suffer from PTSD, panic attacks, anxiety, depression," she said. Morris also tells BaiLee's story.
"She would want me to try to save lives," Morris said. "You know the only thing that's going to stop distracted driving is to bring awareness, to educate people that you have a real responsibility behind the wheel."
Morris also talks about the responsibility pedestrians have too. "You know I've thought through it every day since this accident. What was going through her head? Why did she just assume that he saw her?" Morris explained.
Morris has a lot of questions that don't have answers. She now focuses on her family and keeping BaiLee's memory alive.
"If I can protect another mother from going through what I'm going through and save another family from the heartache we have endured; that's why I tell her story," Morris said.
The drivers both received careless driving charges and fines. Morris called them slaps on the wrist and hopes to change the laws to bring more consequences and awareness.
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