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Magna • Mental health counselors were on standby Wednesday to help students and staff at Cyprus High School, the day after a driver from the school struck and killed a bicyclist with her truck.
Mental health counselors were standing by to help any of the school's 1,550 students who wanted to talk about the incident. However, near the end of the school day Wednesday, CHS principal John Welburn said none of his 1,550 students had availed themselves of the service.
"Things seem pretty normal, though people here certainly are aware of what took place and are concerned for both our student, and the family of the deceased," he said.
Classes continued on schedule throughout the day, said Benjamin Horsley, spokesman for the Granite School District. "Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victim and her family as well as all the individuals involved in this tragic accident," he added.
Police said the front and back windshield of the girl's Dodge Dakota truck were heavily decorated with opaque paint celebrating her 17th birthday when the accident occurred Tuesday. The girl had cleared a small area on her front windshield, said Lt. Don Hutson of the Unified Police Department.
The girl and a male high school student left the school and were driving south about noon down Katherine Drive (8740 West) near 3300 South when the girl began veering into oncoming traffic for unknown reasons along the residential road, Hutson said.
The victim, Karen Johnson, 48, of Salt Lake City, was riding northbound on Katherine Drive during her lunch break with a male colleague, said Hutson.
When the pair saw the truck veering toward them, the male bicyclist was able to veer to the right and ended up safely off the road, Hutson said. Johnson, though, veered left to go around the truck just as the teen driver veered sharply left to go back into her lane. The truck struck the bicyclist, who died on the way to the hospital, Hutson said.
Johnson was wearing a helmet and was bicycling with traffic as she should have been. Johnson's husband is on his way home from Asia, family said.
"We aren't doing too well, that's obvious,"said Chuck Schmitt, Johnson's father. "It's a shock. I mean, what do you do when your young daughter is killed? It's a terrible thing to experience."
The family described Johnson, a Salt Lake City native and electrical engineer, as a world traveler, an avid bike rider who did 100-, 200- and 500-mile rides and even built her own bicycle. A graduate of the University of Utah, Johnson was active in the community.
"We were close but she was the one who was more daring … she loved life, just vibrant," said Sandra Kragthorpe of her younger sister. "The sad thing is that this is the second time somebody hit her on a regular street and this time it was fatal."
It is unclear whether the girl's vision was obstructed by the window paint and balloons in the truck or if she was otherwise distracted, Hutson said. Police do not suspect drugs or alcohol contributed to the accident, but they are running blood tests as part of a routine investigation into a fatal accident.
Charges will not be decided until police have completed their investigation.
Residents in the neighborhood feared something would happen on what they call a "high traffic" residential street. The speed limit is set at 25 mph, but neighbors say cars drive much faster and there aren't any stop signs or speed bumps to stop them.
"I have to run into the road to get people to stop so my kids can cross the road," said Sherri Butler who lives on Katherine Drive. "We been saying for years it's going to take somebody being killed before the county pays attention."
Randy Dehart, another neighbor, said it is not uncommon to see drivers drag racing on the street in front of his house. "It hurts now that something has happened."
The street is the only one in the area that runs straight from one end of the neighborhood to the high school.
Chris Raymond, who has lived on the street for the past 2½ years, said his truck and car have been hit several times while parked on the road. When it comes to his grandchildren, they are required to play on the side of the house to avoid any danger. Other neighbors agreed and said they worry about the children in the area who walk to school and high-school students racing up and down the street.
Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said the driver was a student at Cyprus. Horsley said counseling has been offered to students and the school's staff.