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Health Department honors teens killed in car crashes in 2017

SALT LAKE CITY – A sad reminder to stay safe on the roads.  The Utah Department of Health is honoring teens killed in car crashes in 2017, and they’re hoping other teens will drive safer after hearing these tragic stories.

Eleven seconds.

That’s how long it reportedly took for a distracted coal truck driver to veer into oncoming traffic on Highway 10 just outside of Price, leading to the death of 19 year old Mykel Riddle.

(Photo Credit: Paul Riddle)

The driver of the truck was searching for something in his cab and took his eyes off the road.

“Literally, in that much time, that 11 or 12 seconds erased 19 years of someone’s life,” says Mykel’s father, Paul Riddle.

The Riddles were told to rush to the hospital, since the doctors weren’t sure how long Mykel would be alive.  Six days after the crash, Mykel passed away.  Paul Riddle says his son’s death hasn’t gotten easier to accept.

“People tell us all the time that it will get easier, it will get better.  I don’t think it does,” he adds.

Mykel is one of 27 teens that were honored by the Utah Health Department.  They’ve compiled their yearly list of teens who were killed in fatal crashes on Utah’s roads in 2017 and put all of these stories in a book. This will be given to student drivers in the hopes to remind them to be safe while behind the wheel.

The program has been in effect for a decade, and Violence and Injury Prevention Program Spokesman Ryan Bartlett believes the books are helping.

“The project helped to get legislators to pass the primary seat belt law,” Bartlett says.

He cites the story of one teen whose friend died in a violent crash.

Bartlett says, “He now puts a white ribbon around his steering wheel and when he gets in the car he seed that ribbon and it reminds him, ‘I need to buckle up.’  His friend, because he failed to buckle up, was ejected from the car and killed.”