By Dave Iltis
Police Ask for Public’s Help; A Thousand Cyclists Ride in Solidarity.
On June 7, 2011, twenty four year old Brynn Barton was struck and killed on 700 E at around 750 S. by a hit and run driver. According to Salt Lake City police, it appears as though she was not on her bike when she was hit, and was possibly on the roadway already. She had been riding with two friends who were ahead of her and didn’t see what had happened. The vehicle is described as a dark colored Volkswagen Passat that would have driver’s side front-end damage and potentially windshield damage. Currently, the police don’t have much information to go on, and are asking the public to distribute a flier available at www.slcpd.com/Newsroom that describes the car. Anyone with information is asked to call 801-799-3000. Callers can remain anonymous. A $5000 reward is being offered from the Tips for Cash program through SLCPD, and an additional $1000 from the Christensen Law Firm.
A memorial ride and candlelight vigil was held on Friday June 17th in the evening at Liberty Park. The ride began at the park and moved slowly through downtown Salt Lake City before returning back to Liberty Park for embraces, song, and the vigil. An estimated 1000 cyclists took part in the ride, many who knew Brynn, and many who were there to show solidarity for their fellow fallen cyclist.
Debbie Barton, Brynn’s mom said, “We are just amazed at the outpouring of love. We’ve had such amazing love and support with such a tragic thing. We are glad to raise awareness for this and hopefully people look out for each other more.”
Most of the Barton family rode that evening along with close friends. Her father, Jeff Barton said that the ride helped get his family through the ordeal. “If we can raise awareness somehow by doing some good with this, that’s great.” He mentioned the possibility of continuing the ride as a tradition, “It would be nice to do something for raising awareness for motorists and cyclists, with the UDOT (Road Respect) program.”
He described his daughter as “happy, easy going, funny, and that she loved to get together with friends and family. She’s a great kid.” She had recently taken up cycling and had done the Salt Lake Marathon ride and the metric century option of the Salt Lake Century with her father, “She did the whole thing, she sprinted over the finish, she loved it.”
Brynn had worked at University Hospital as a nurse in the maternal newborn unit and had graduated from Murray High. Co-worker Philip Carlson remembered her as” bright and cheerful and happy and interested in learning new things” and that co-workers were quite upset by her passing.
Around a thousand cyclists came out to ride in solidarity including many who didn’t know her.
Pip Hunt, a cyclist who moved to Salt Lake a couple of years ago, remarked, “I came out tonight, I don’t actually know Brynn, but I’m a cyclist, and I ride a lot, and bike commute, about 30 miles a day. I think it’s an important thing to stand up for, to have safe biking and being able to share the roads.” Commenting on the accident and the ride, she said, “Having someone die in a hit and run accident is awful. It’s really, really sad. It’s unacceptable that someone can just drive away from a situation like that. I hope that that person came across the bike mob going downtown tonight and is like holy crap.” The ride is “where people come together to share something and to stand up for what they believe in.”
Local cyclist Art O’Connor shared similar views, “I came out to support the bike community and to hopefully raise awareness. There are a lot of unnecessary accidents. People need to pay attention, both cyclists and drivers. I think it’s important to support the community. It’s a good community, but we’re losing too many people.”