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FARMINGTON — When Spencer and Hunter Benson learned of their friend's death in what investigators called "a horrible accident," they were instantly impacted. But rather than have the incident be just a tragic cautionary tale, they decided to turn it into a project of awareness and remembrance of a young life lost.
On March 27, 16-year-old Andrew Tolman was struck and killed by a westbound driver as he walked his bicycle through a crosswalk at 400 South and State Street in Farmington. Authorities said the intersection has not been a problem in the past, but the teen's death has highlighted an issue concerning traffic safety in the area.
Now a Farmington family is working to get orange traffic safety flags installed at the intersection where Tolman was hit, as well as other high-traffic crossings.
We don't want to go to school knowing that we could have done something to stop (future accidents) and someone else got hit.
"We don't want any of our friends — or friends of other friends — to have this happen to them," said Hunter Benson, 15. "We don't want to go to school knowing that we could have done something to stop (future accidents) and someone else got hit."
Hunter attended elementary school with Tolman while his 17-year-old brother Spencer played soccer with him. They both knew him as a friendly, hard-working young man, who excelled in academics, sports and was also an Eagle Scout.
The traffic flag effort is part of the boys' Eagle Scout service project.
"We were all friends with him, and it's a good thing to know that just because he's not here anymore he can still make an impact on the community," said Spencer Benson. The project is just the kind of effort that Andrew would have been involved with himself, Spencer added.
Spencer and Hunter Benson hope to put flags similar to these at the crosswalk at 400 South and State Street where their friend Andrew Tolman was killed.
"He was always trying to help people, and this is definitely something that will help a lot of people," he said.
Along with their mother, Becky Hale, the family has also set up the Andrew Tolman Crosswalk Fund* at Wells Fargo Bank — dedicated to raising the $1,000 needed to finance the flag project. The family has also reached out to Farmington city officials and is hopeful to have the approval process expedited so that the flags can be in place before the school year ends in late May or early June.
Thus far, Hale said the response from the city's mayor has been positive and they will work hard to get the project completed in the next few weeks.
Hale said she hopes the project can help the Tolman family in the healing process after the loss of their son — to let them know that others are thinking of them and to honor their son's memory in a lasting, meaningful way.
"I've talked to them (and) the Tolman family doesn’t want this to happen again," Hale said. "This is a message to everybody that's affected by this to reach out and help, and to have that moment when they see the flags to know that we're making a difference in the lives of a lot of people."
Contributing: Mike Anderson
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