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Four-vehicle crash kills 3-year-old, sends toddler and mother to hospital

PROVO Utah (News4Utah) - Three-year-old Chelsea Parkinson and her baby sister were sitting in their car seats as their parents waited for the green light.

Provo police said as they waited a driver struck their vehicle from behind, killing Chelsea and sending her 15-month-old sister to the hospital where she was listed in critical condition.  Their mother was also hospitalized according to police.

Police released their identities Monday afternoon.  The Parkinson family was in a red SUV that pictures showed was crushed between the pickup truck and the vehicle in front of it.  Another vehicle that was in front of those vehicles was also struck from behind.

The accident at 3700 North University Avenue happened late Sunday afternoon.  It’s believed the Parkinsons who live out of state were headed to his father’s home.

An LDS bishop for the Edgewood Ward in Provo said he couldn’t comment without permission from the Parkinson family.

The owner of Will's Pit Stop which is located at the intersection, has set contributions at her store for the Parkinson family.

“It’s so sad,” said Holly Faulkner.  “We just hope to help with the funeral expenses this family will be facing.”

It was one of her employees that first heard the crash during his shift Sunday afternoon.

“I heard a really, really loud bang and I ran outside to see what it was,” said Nicholas Peterson.

He thought someone had crashed into the gas pumps.  Then he saw the four-vehicle pileup and ran to help.

"Me and a couple of others swarmed around the car that was sandwiched between two other cars, Peterson said.  “It looked horrendous. Probably one of the most terrifying scenes I've seen in a car accident.”

He said paramedics arrived quickly and could tell one of the children had died.  He said the driver of the pickup truck also had a child with him as well as a woman.

Police said the pickup truck belonged to the city of Pleasant Grove.  The city manager of Pleasant Grove had no comment as to why a city employee was driving the vehicle on a Sunday afternoon in another community.

Earlier Sunday, the Parkinsons were attending a service at the Edgewood Ward.  Neighbors remembered seeing them.

“They were the cutest red-headed little family you'd ever seen,” said Sharon Fitch.   “The mother and father are red-headed and that little one was red-headed. It was so cute.  I had my eyes on them, never dreaming that anything was going to happen to them.

Fitch lives in the same neighborhood as Dr. Richard Parkinson.  Eric Shumway sat next to the Parkinson family during Sunday’s service.

"I couldn’t help but admire this beautiful couple and the affection that they showed for the little baby in the father's arms, said Shumway.  To hear of this tragedy is unbelievably sad. 

Provo police said there were a total of six injured at the accident.

Faulkner knew the other family that was hit from behind

“They're doing okay,” said Faulkner. “There's some bumps and bruises.  They're sad about the incident also.  They're hearts are broken also.”

A spokesman for the Provo police department said traffic investigators are finalizing their report.  But to date, they have not issued any citations until they see the report.


UPDATE:  Police have identified the 3-year-old killed yesterday as Chelsea Parkinson. They say her sibling was actually a 8-month-old girl, instead of the previously reported 8-month-old boy. 

[ORIGINAL STORY] 

PROVO, Utah (News4Utah) - A toddler is dead after a car crash involving four vehicles Sunday afternoon.

Provo Police Detective Nick Dupaix said they received a call of a four-vehicle crash at 4:48 p.m. in the intersection of 3700 North University Avenue.

He said a minivan, a white Mercedes, and a red station wagon were in the southbound left-turning lane on University Avenue when a Pleasant Grove city truck traveling southbound on University Avenue struck the station wagon, causing a chain reaction for the four-car crash.

He said the red station wagon took the bulk of the damage and crews had to use the Jaws of Life to extract the people inside.

The mother inside the station wagon was transported to the hospital in critical condition and her 15-month-old daughter was taken by Life Flight to Primary Children's Hospital. Tragically, her other daughter died at the scene. She was 3 years old.  The father, driver of the station wagon, sustained minor injuries.

Det. Dupaix said there was a total of 10 people in the four vehicles, but others involved in the accident sustained minor injuries.

“University Avenue is a common road that we do have a lot of traffic accidents. We find that most of our severe traffic accidents are from here to north of Provo Canyon,” said Dupaix.

David Holman who has lived in the area his entire life said, “The lights are super slow so people always try to speed through it super fast. I got into a crash with my friend here.”

His friend, Kade Mason added that it is a dangerous intersection. 

“Just like them, we have kids their same age," Dupaix said. "I even have a kid who’s an 8-month-old and I have a 4-year-old. To me, being in this situation would be the most devastating thing I would ever have in my life.”

The mother's condition has been upgraded to stable as of Sunday night. The 15-month-old is still in critical condition.

Provo Police said the driver of the truck was not impaired, however, investigators are looking at speed and distracted driving as the main factors in the crash.

They said the driver is presumed to driving around 45 mph at the time of the crash. They are still investigating whether he is an employee for the city of Pleasant Grove.

This is a developing story. Stay with News4Utah for updates.


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