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Crossing guards want Utah drivers to put down their phones

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Provo Police Sgt. Nisha King says that she wants drivers to be more aware, and parents to be more active in their children’s safety on the way to school and home. (Photo: KUTV)

Myra Gish is a tough lady. Tough enough to be a crossing guard, which has been called the most dangerous job in education.

After retiring from her job as a secretary in state government, Gish took a job helping schoolchildren at busy crosswalks in her Provo neighborhood.

Gish experienced close calls with distracted drivers but always kept herself between children and traffic.

On the morning of September 9, 2016, there was a call to 911. A driver skidded to a stop too late, bumping Gish in the leg, knocking her to the ground. She put her hand out to catch her fall and broke her wrist, which required surgery and metal pins.

The Beyond the Books unit queried metro police departments about incidents involving crossing guards hit in traffic and received responses from 19. They found that since 2016, the year Gish was hit, a total of 20 crossing guards and children were struck by cars in crosswalks. Some of the collisions caused broken bones, but luckily, no deaths.

Several crossing guards Jones spoke with, including Gish, think that more could be done to prevent these incidents. Gish asked the Provo Police Department, which oversees crossing guards in the city, for a lighted stop sign to carry into the intersections. She says they told her it would be too costly.

“I’d hold up my sign and head out and the cars would just whiz by,” Gish remembers. “So I just said, you know what? Maybe I shouldn’t do this anymore.”

Gish quit her crossing guard duty at the end of the 2016 school year, which relieved her grown children, who worried about their mother in such a dangerous job.

Provo Police Sgt. Nisha King says that she wants drivers to be more aware, and parents to be more active in their children’s safety on the way to school and home.

“We’ve sort of actively implored parents, come help us,” King says. “And if your route to go to work has a school zone in it, leave five minutes early. It’s worth it for the safety of our children.”

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