OREM — An 80-year-old crossing guard was struck by a vehicle Wednesday while helping a student across the street.
The accident happened about 7:20 a.m. in front of Orchard Elementary School, 1035 N. 800 East. The crossing guard, Jerry Smith, had just helped a student cross the street and was still standing in the crosswalk, wearing a reflective vest and holding a stop sign, when he was hit by a van, Orem Police Lt. Craig Martinez said.
The crossing lights were flashing at the time, Martinez said.
Smith hit the windshield of the vehicle and was taken to a local hospital to be treated for a neck injury. Martinez said Smith was conscious and talking to emergency crews, and they did not believe his injury would require surgery.
The driver, Bruce Taylor, 48, of Orem, was cited for investigation of driving with no insurance and failing to yield to pedestrians.
Brady Harper's 14-year-old daughter, Madalyn, was in the crosswalk when Smith got hit. She called home very upset, but was not hurt.
"He had gone out to stop the traffic, and she was starting to walk, and she was 2 or 3 feet from being hit as well," Harper said.
Orchard Elementary Principal Aaron Stevenson said the popular crossing guard has been working at the school for many years. Smith greets each student as they come to the curb, asks them how they're doing and tries to talk to them if they look down, Stevenson said.
"He's just a tremendous individual. He's very genuinely interested in the students — dependable, reliable, relatable to the students. He greets them with a smile and always ask them how they're doing," Stevenson said. "He's very concerned and takes his responsibilities very seriously. He's there long before he needs to be and long after he needs to be to make sure the students are safe."
To show their support, Orchard Elementary students during art class Wednesday dedicated their class time to Smith.
"The art teacher has changed her plans to allow the students to make some get well cards and some sympathy cards so that they can express their appreciation for him, and then we'll deliver those cards to him," Stevenson said.
Residents in the area say they've worried about the crosswalk for a long time.
"We've been here for 28 years, and we've seen things consistently, close calls all the time, distracted drivers going through here, just driving too fast," said Steve Fleischer, who lives across the street from the elementary school. "It used to be a 25 mph street. Years ago, they switched it to 35, and we fought that with the (Orem) City Council to no avail."
Martinez said he doesn't know what else could be done to warn drivers about the crosswalk. The lights were flashing, cones were out, and Smith was standing in the middle of the street with a stop sign.
"The neon vests they wear are reflective," Martinez said. "He had on a neon green sweatshirt on. We did and he did everything right. Unfortunately, it just takes one person to do something wrong."
Contributing: Keith McCord
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