Families of teens killed on Utah roads want to ‘make things better’

Oct 12, 2023, 5:00 PM

Lisa Mitchell, left, hugs Holly Warren after a press event, hosted by Utah Department of Health and...

Lisa Mitchell, left, hugs Holly Warren after a press event, hosted by Utah Department of Health and Human Services, Utah Department of Transportation and Utah Department of Public Safety, in Kearns on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. Mitchell’s son Eli and Warren’s daughter Lilly were killed in separate accidents. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

KEARNS, Utah — Families of teens killed on Utah roads are asking drivers to be safer behind the wheel.

Families who lost their teens to various crashes along the Wasatch Front last year piled into the Salt Lake County Library in Kearns on Thursday.

They fought through tears to share what made their kids special and how the life-altering crashes affect them today. They also shared what we can all do to prevent others from feeling their pain.

The event was hosted by the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, the Utah Department of Transportation and the Utah Department of Public Safety ahead of National Teen Driver Safety Week. 

The families’ stories

Lisa Mitchell is the mother of 13-year-old Eli Mitchell, who was hit and killed by a drunk driver while riding his bike in West Jordan last April.

“I have absolute empathy for all the parents of these sweet teenagers, and it gives me hope that people are still trying to make things better,” Mitchell said with a shaking voice.

In total, 32 teens were killed on Utah roadways last year. The most common contributors nationally were impairment and aggressive driving. Mitchell and the rest of these families are pleading with everyone to do better.

“Follow the rules, even though you don’t want to, even though it’s hard. They’re there for a reason,” she said.

Sarah Dorian is the mother of Briggs Dorian-Lawrence, who was killed in a crash in Spanish Fork Canyon last year.

“Talk about your concerns about driving and being on the road. About being prepared, about driving in a safe vehicle. About not being distracted,”  Dorian said. “Talk openly about these concerns to the ones that you love.” 

Holly Warren is the mother of Lilly Warren, who was killed while walking to school in Springville last year.

“Accidents happen in this world every day. It’s what you choose to do in the seconds, minutes, and even years after the accident,” Warren said.

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Families of teens killed on Utah roads want to ‘make things better’