SALT LAKE CITY — On Halloween night in 2015, Keith and Anna Simmon had just finished trick-or-treating with their kids when it happened.
The couple had only visited a handful of houses in their neighborhood, and the sun had barely set. But it was nearly 7 p.m. and their 3-year-old twins, Eleanor and Frederick, had bedtime in half an hour.
The kids piled into a wagon pulled by their grandfather. Anna Simmon's sister and her husband, Brett and Amy Davis, had also finished trick-or-treating with their 1-year-old daughter, Tovah. The family members started walking home along 2100 South in Salt Lake City.
While crossing in a crosswalk at 400 East, a truck made a left turn from the main road and slammed into Keith Simmon and the wagon full of children.
"You could see in the headlights, the wagon was under the truck and the kids were all spilled out on the road," Amy Davis recalled. "We were being safe, and it still happened to us. It can happen to anybody."
On Wednesday, the family gathered together at the same crosswalk to share their stories and caution drivers and trick-or-treaters to stay safe this Halloween.
"I don't know if there is anything we could have done differently for drivers who just aren't paying attention," Anna Simmon said. "From now on, we definitely have a lot of protective material on our costumes."
She and the Davises were behind the group when the accident happened. Anna Simmon ran to each member of her family, trying to comfort all of them at the same time.
We were being safe, and it still happened to us. It can happen to anybody.
"Everyone in my family needed me. My husband was severely injured, and my babies were hurt," she said. "They were all so far away from each other, I just kept rushing to one and saying something and then rushing to the next."
All three children suffered fractured skulls and scrapes on their faces. They were treated at Primary Children's Hospital for a few days. Keith Simmon suffered a broken knee, wrist and rib as well as several abrasions, staying in the hospital for two weeks.
"I think the fact they were in a wagon probably saved their lives because it absorbed most of the impact from the crash," Anna Simmon said.
Everyone made a full recovery from the accident and the driver was issued a ticket. Although the kids have no memory of the crash, Anna Simmon remembers the paramedics cutting the "Toy Story" costumes off her children.
The costumes didn't have reflective gear, she added. "We were trick-or-treating before the sunset so we didn’t even think we would need it."
Deadliest month: October
October is the deadliest month in Utah for pedestrian crashes, according to statistics from the road safety campaign Zero Fatalities. Nearly half of all Utah pedestrian deaths occur between 6 p.m. and midnight.
"You really have to expect the unexpected at all times, especially on a night like Halloween," said Utah Department of Transportation spokesman John Gleason.
"We always have to be on the lookout for pedestrians," he said. "You don’t want to put any of the responsibility on someone else to ensure your safety."
Here are some tips from UDOT to stay safe this Halloween:
- Wear bright colors and reflective materials at dawn, dusk or at night
- Carry a flashlight or wear a headlamp
- Stay on sidewalks and cross streets at crosswalks
- Always look for cars in all directions
- Make eye contact with incoming drivers before crossing
- If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and as far from the road as possible
- Avoid walking impaired
- Look for pedestrians when driving; use extra caution in low visibility conditions
- Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk
- Never pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk
- Slow down and obey speed limits
- Never assume the right of way
- Never drive impaired, including driving distracted, drowsy or drunk