Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Mark Maxson wipes away tears while talking about his late son, Adrian, Thursday as part of the campaign to prevent teen traffic fatalities.

Kiefer Sandoval, 16, had just finished breakfast and was headed out the door to drive himself and his younger brother to school.

His mother, Kim, told her sons goodbye, "Have a good day," and "I love you."

Just three minutes later and less than a quarter-mile from their home, Kiefer was dead.

The date was Aug. 23, 2007. Sandoval was driving on Center Street in Lehi. Going uphill 10 to 15 mph over the speed limit and driving slightly over the center line. Seeing cars coming in the opposite direction, Sandoval turned his car so as not to be hit by the on-coming vehicles, but twice overcorrected. His car rolled down an embankment.

Sandoval was killed at the scene. His brother was able to walk out of the vehicle on his own power and call his mother to tell her they had been in an accident.

Kim Sandoval says she will never forget the sight of her son lying on the ground with two strangers who had stopped to help.

"I was just begging for him to breathe," she said softly while wiping away tears.

Sandoval's story is one of 16 in a new pamphlet unveiled Thursday. Each story tells of a Utah teenager killed in either a vehicle crash or auto-pedestrian accident.

The booklet is a product of the Utah Department of Health's Violence and Injury Prevention Program. The compilation of stories is entitled, "Zero Fatalities. Sixteen reasons why zero is the only acceptable number."

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Utah teens ages 15-19, according to the department. In 2007, there were 40 teens killed on Utah's roads.

Thursday, many tears were shed in a somber press conference announcing the completion of the pamphlet. Families of nearly every teen mentioned in the booklet were present with pictures of each loved one on display around the outside patio of the Day-Riverside Branch Library, 1575 W. 1000 North.

The hope of the parents was to convince other teens and parents to do everything they can to prevent a similar road tragedy from happening to them.

"No parent should have to go to the cemetery on their son's birthday," Sandoval said. "No one is invincible. (Teenagers) all need to slow down."

The families also hope that by sharing their stories, it will send a stronger message than just nameless, faceless statistics on a piece of paper.

Kiefer Sandoval was a great debater, creative writer and would laugh so hard at times he would fall helplessly to the floor.

"The joy Kiefer found in life was contagious," his mother said.

Joseph Salazar was killed on U-201 Halloween night. Salazar, despite being just 19, somehow got into a Salt Lake club and was served alcohol. On the way home, he was arguing with his friend and driving very fast. Salazar started to turn off onto I-215 but changed his mind at the last minute and tried swerving back into traffic. He clipped another vehicle, rolling his vehicle.

Salazar, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected and killed. The passenger in his car, who was wearing a seatbelt, received only minor injuries.

The last words he told his mother, Jennifer Miner, after eating dinner at home and walking out the door were, "Thanks for dinner, Mama. I love you."

Salazar is survived by his infant son, whom Miner said will now never know his father.

"Don't just think about how your actions will affect you," was Miner's message to other teens, "but all the people you leave behind. There is an emptiness that will never be filled. Please don't let your actions behind the wheel be another reason for another roadside memorial."

Mark Maxson's son, 18-year-old Adrian, was killed near Weber State University where Mark teaches.

"I have to go by there everyday," he said while wiping tears with a tissue.

Maxson was driving home with friends on April 3, 2007, late at night when he somehow dropped his glasses out the window. He stopped to get out and look for them in the road. A short time later, he was struck and killed by another vehicle whose driver did not see him.

"The hardest part of this ... I couldn't hold his hand. He was all bandaged up," Maxson said of his son as he went to the hospital right after the accident. "The day before it happened, we had the best visit ever."

Mark said his son was politically active, had just aced his mid-terms, and was taking two classes at Weber State early, even though he was still in high school.

Maxson said he hoped something good could come out of something so terrible, such as possibly saving a life if his son's story would make someone else think twice about doing what Adrian did.

"There isn't anything on the earth worth taking that risk," he said.

Lt. Governor Gary Herbert, who spoke at the ceremony, said all parents need to ask themselves what they can do to help make their sons and daughters safer. He encouraged parents to stress to their children safety tips such as seatbelt usage, not driving distracted such as talking on a cell phone, texting or eating, no excessive speed, limiting the number of friends allowed in a car at one time and avoid driving late at night.

"The idea of zero fatalities, that's a goal we can all live with," he said.


E-mail: preavy@desnews.com