"Road kill." That's how the grandfather of 16-year-old Ryan Fullmer, who suffered two broken legs and a crushed elbow in a hit-and-run accident, described how his grandchild was left following the auto-motorcycle collision in Layton on June 4.
Four days later, 22-year-old Edith Welker of Salt Lake City was struck by a white van while riding her bicycle near 300 South and 500 East. She suffered a broken jaw and has several missing and broken teeth. Adding insult to injury, her backpack containing her wallet was stuck to the grill of the van that struck her. She says the van driver is now using her credit cards.
No arrests have been made in either case, although police investigations are continuing. These young people may need more surgeries and procedures to heal. Welker, who was scheduled to go on a humanitarian trip to Madagascar in a matter of weeks, plans to go to Africa in the fall.
Meanwhile, the drivers responsible are going about their lives, which hardly seems fair. Because the drivers left the scene of the accidents, police no longer view these matters as traffic infractions. They are criminal acts.
Driving is a privilege that carries responsibilities. Drivers involved in accidents have a duty to stop, notify authorities, ascertain the condition of other people and property involved in the accident and share insurance information.
On a human level, it defies understanding how someone who strikes another person with his automobile doesn't stop to offer assistance. Fullmer, for instance, was dragged beneath the car that struck him and repeatedly called to the driver to stop. The driver either did not hear or ignored his cries.
Sadly, there are numerous reports of such incidents in the United States each week. The grossest example recently was a hit-and-run accident in Hartford, Conn. There, neither the drivers who struck 78-year-old Angel Arce Torres nor witnesses came to his aid.
People who hit and run carry a heavy load on their consciences. It is hard to understand how they can go about their daily lives knowing they have done such a thing. People who hesitate to help in these circumstances must also carry a burden knowing they did nothing, or only the bare minimum, to assist somebody in need.
It is impossible to know if any of these incidents would have turned out differently had the responsible parties and, in Torres' case, witnesses stopped at the scene and offered help. No accident victim should be left as "road kill."