This story caught my attention because there are no "bad guys"; it was merely a confluence of inexperience at life and unfavorable conditions. A driver who struck and killed a 13-year-old West Hills Middle School student will not face felony charges of vehicular homicide and substance abuse, although he may still face undetermined misdemeanor charges. KSL news video embedded below:
The incident occurred on November 2nd, 2011 near 5600 West and 8200 South in West Jordan, Utah just before 7:30 A.M. Collin Worland and two classmates were enroute to the middle school when they attempted to cross 5600 West during peak traffic hours. Instead of using a marked crosswalk, they chose to cross about 200 yards north of the crosswalk. The three had done it before and believed they could do it safely. Two of them guessed right -- but Collin Worland guessed wrong. He was struck and killed in middle of street by a full-size passenger vehicle driven by a 19-year-old identified in this comment as Henry Gomez, who was subsequently found to have THC in his system from smoking marijuana.
The Salt Lake County District Attorney's office screened possible felony charges for vehicular homicide and substance abuse, but found out that although the driver had metabolized THC in his system, he was not under the influence of marijuana. That means he smoked dope the night before, which illustrates that even after one is no longer high, THC can remain in one's system. So the DA chose not to press charges, although the West Jordan city prosecutor has not ruled out possible misdemeanor charges. Emphasis will now be re-directed towards making the 5600 West crossing safer, and the YouTube video below, filmed at 7:40 A.M. on November 3rd, the day after the accident, illustrates the traffic and environmental conditions prevalent during that time of day. Heavy rush hour traffic and darkness could make it difficult to see someone who's wearing dark clothing darting across the street; a motorist could also be partially blinded by the lights of opposing traffic.
Some have suggested there should be a crossing guard assigned to the crosswalk. You'll note that there is a 20 MPH school zone sign, but Collin's mother Erin Worland posted a comment to YouTube stating that it is not normally turned on for middle school kids. Generally, only elementary school kids are considered to be in need of the extra protection. Some have also recommended that a pedestrian bridge be built over 5600 West, but a bridge can cost as much as $1.5 million. Whether or not it's built will depend upon how much the construction of the new Mountain View Corridor would affect rush hour traffic volume on 5600 West.
By all accounts, Collin Worland was not some chronic risk-taker who sought to constantly push the envelope; he was a responsible young teen who did well in school and wanted to join the military upon reaching maturity. Tributes to Collin have been posted on the Remembering Collin Worland Facebook page, still active. Helping the family in their recovery is the fact that they are people of faith; they are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While LDS membership does not provide an escape clause from grief, it does provide a strategy to successfully manage and overcome its effects. LDS members believe one of the purposes of mortality is to experience the full range of human emotions so we can learn how to manage and control those emotions successfully. The Worland family apparently holds no ill will against the driver, Henry Gomez.