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Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
A family member — man in middle — of the boy who was killed walks his children home from the accident scene Friday afternoon in Orem.

OREM — A 4-year-old boy who died Friday after being run over in his driveway was always happy and cheerful, friends say.

"He was the sweetest little boy," said Becky Phillips, a close family friend and neighbor. "He was always full of life, just always happy, always had a smile on his face."

Cooper Kofford had been swimming in his family's backyard pool Friday with 10 to 15 other children who were family members and friends, said Orem Police Capt. Steve Clark.

At some point, Cooper decided to go out front to the driveway and lie on a blanket to soak up the sun, which the children often did.

Cooper's aunt came out to leave at about 2 p.m. and looked around, very aware of the fact that there were children playing in the area, Clark said. However, when she got into her full-size SUV and backed out, Clark said she failed to notice Cooper lying on the side of the driveway.

As soon as the aunt ran over the boy, she realized something was wrong and stopped, got out of the vehicle and immediately family members immediately called 911.

Initially, officers requested a medical helicopter, but when they arrived on scene, they determined it was an obvious fatality and canceled the helicopter, Clark said.

"It appears to be an unfortunate accident," Clark said. "It's a sad set of circumstances."

Although the investigation is still ongoing, Clark said he didn't believe a citation would be issued. Police investigators spent several hours trying to create a 3-D diagram of the accident.

Police believe there may have been other children on the driveway at 966 S. 1000 East when Cooper was run over, based on other blankets nearby.

Officers say there were adults watching the children in the swimming pool, but do not know if there were adults watching the driveway.

Cooper is the second youngest of six children and "so loved," Phillips said. "All of them are so sweet to each other. They get along really, really well."

Family members, friends and members of the family's LDS Church ward continued to arrive Friday afternoon to offer support.

Phillips said the aunt is very close with the family and runs a flower business with her sister, Cooper's mother. The two women were always together and took care of each other's children when needed, she said.

"She was like their other mother," Phillips said of the aunt.

The death is at least the third tragedy of its kind in Utah in the past four months: In April, the uncle of a Riverton toddler backed over and killed an 18-month-old boy, who was apparently reaching under the vehicle to retrieve a toy. In June, a relative backed over and critically injured a Bountiful toddler, who had crawled in the path of a backing vehicle.

Thirty-six Utah children under age 10 were killed when either hit or run over by a motor vehicle on private property.

Twenty-four were killed in residential driveways.

In more than half the deaths, the driver was a family member.

Children under 5 are most at risk; they accounted for 29 of the 36 deaths.

About 70 percent of deaths occurred with a vehicle moving in reverse.

About two children are killed each week in the United States by back-overs.

Preventive steps:

 Walk completely around your vehicle before starting.

 Know where the children are while backing; have them sit or stand where they can be seen.

 Roll down your widow so you can better hear outside your vehicle.

 Be especially cautious with vans, SUVs and trucks; about 80 percent of deaths involve larger-type vehicles.

Source: Utah Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Contributing: Jacob Hancock

e-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com