The serenity of a warm springlike afternoon was violently shattered Sunday when a two-car collision left a mother and her 2-month-old son dead, a father critically injured and an uninjured 4-year-old son wondering what had happened.
KILLED:Janice Brinkley, 25, 3326 W. 6540 South, West Jordan
Nicholas Brinkley, 2 months, same address
Duane Brinkley, 27, driver of the family's car, was in critical condition at LDS Hospital Monday, while 4-year-old Shawn escaped the accident relatively unscathed.
Paramedics worked feverishly on the ground strewn with debris from the accident to resuscitate Nicholas as a police officer led Shawn away from the scene, clutching the boy in his arms as the 4-year-old sobbed "no, no, no." Stunned witnesses stood or waited in their cars nearby.
"It's not the same with kids, it never is," said an exhausted Craig Jepson, a West Valley firefighter, referring to his experience trying to save Nicholas' life.
"It's a young life and you want to do everything you can to save it," he said, adding that having children of his own adds a painful dimension to his efforts.
"I'll have nightmares from this for the rest of my life," said 19-year old West Valley resident Steve Shaffin. Driving home about 4 p.m., Shaffin witnessed the fatal crash.
"It's really sad, it makes you just want to cry," Shaffin said.
Shaffin also watched the driver of the second vehicle, Johnny Gabron, 35, Magna, as he was ejected from his vehicle an instant before it rolled. Gabron was treated and released from Pioneer Valley Hospital, a spokeswoman said.
"The truck flipped like it was in the Indianapolis 500," Shaffin said. "The door came open and he (Gabron) flew out and landed in the ditch."
The tragedy occurred at the intersection of 36th West and 41st South, well-known for being the site of many serious accidents, said West Valley Police Sgt. Randy Pond.
"We have had a lot of accidents here, and I'm not sure why," he said.
Gabron was eastbound on 41st South when his vehicle collided broadside with Brinkley's sedan, southbound on 36th West, Pond said.
The collision pushed the Brinkley car from the street onto a sidewalk and flipped Gabron's vehicle onto its roof. Gabron was ejected from the vehicle and landed in a grassy ditch next to the intersection.
It was not clear whether the occupants of the Brinkley car wore seat belts and, although the car was equipped with a child restraint seat, Nicholas was apparently being held by his mother in the front passenger seat, Pond said. Shawn was likely wearing a seat belt, Pond said.
West Valley firefighters rushed the Brinkley parents to Pioneer Valley Hospital, where Janice was pronounced dead on arrival. Duane was flown by helicopter from there to LDS Hospital, a spokeswoman said.
Nicholas was taken to Pioneer Valley Hospital and then flown to Primary Children's Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Shawn was treated at Pioneer Valley and released to the custody of his grandparents, a spokeswoman said.
"I was just going home and I watched this happen. It scares you enough that you don't want to drive anymore," Shaffin said.