LOGAN — Fifth-grade student Parker Lowe greeted twin boys dressed as Ninja Turtles along with the rest of his peers at North Park Elementary School Friday. He’s jumping on board the school’s Halloween festivities by sharing a special message.
Lowe is a member of the Click-It-Club, a special group of fifth-grade students who remind their classmates to buckle up. As Lowe welcomed students to school, he also reminded them about a Halloween coloring competition the club is sponsoring.
Each student can enter the competition by coloring a picture of a witch who is texting while flying on her broom. The illustration also depicts the witch strapped in with a seatbelt over her lap and chest. It’s one of many ways they remind students to buckle up.
They also passed out Click-It-Club erasers, bookmarks, and a 30-day challenge encouraging students to use their seat belts. Each month, the club hosts a competition or activity to include the entire school.
Chad Hawkes, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, is the brains behind the program. He started it more than eight years ago after losing his 19-year-old son, Jake Hawkes, in 2009.
Jake Hawkes was texting behind the wheel when he went through a red light at an intersection on Hyde Park Lane in Logan. He clipped the bumper of a truck making a left turn, which caused his truck to roll. Hawkes said his son was ejected from the vehicle since he was not wearing a seat belt and suffered a traumatic brain injury.
"The neurosurgeon came in and said, 'I’m sorry, but they just don’t recover from this type of brain injury.' He never regained consciousness so I never had a chance to talk to him," Chad Hawkes said.
At the time, Jake Hawkes was in his second year on a soccer scholarship at Iowa Western Community College and had lots of friends.
"Had he been wearing his seat belt, I am 99.99 percent sure that he would have walked away from that accident," Chad Hawkes said.
"The consequences can be deadly," explained Utah Department of Transportation spokesman John Gleason. "Make it a rule that if you are driving everyone in your car has to wear a seat belt."
Gleason said Halloween is one of Utah’s most congested travel days of the year. He reminds people that failing to buckle up in the proper seated position is just as dangerous as not wearing a seat belt at all.
"It can be here today, gone the next instant,” Chad Hawkes said. He has shared this message with thousands of students over the last eight years.
Initially, Chad Hawkes said he was hesitant to share his son’s story for fear it would be the only thing he was remembered by, but soon realized if he could save one of his student’s life by sharing his story it would be worth it.
"He’s willing to share such a sad story so that we will try to help people buckle up more," said fifth-grade student Davin Haws.
Chad Hawkes’ students said they feel his love. “He cares for us,” said student Bella Hansen.
"These guys, I look at them and I see Jake," Chad Hawkes said.