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The City Journals

Draper Library suffers the loss of their children’s librarian following a tragic accident

Oct 31, 2019 02:34PM ● By Mimi Darley Dutton

A small memorial stands at the checkout counter of the Draper Library, honoring the life of children’s librarian Brandilee Chacon. (Mimi Darley Dutton/City Journals)

By Mimi Darley Dutton | [email protected]

Draper Library suffered a difficult loss when their children’s librarian, Brandilee Chacon, died Sept. 17 from injuries sustained in a tragic accident. Chacon had taken her daughter, Sierra Chacon, camping in Big Cottonwood Canyon to celebrate Sierra’s 16th birthday. The two were sleeping in their truck’s covered bed in a designated parking area when they were hit by a car coming down the canyon, in which all four passengers were drinking. Sierra died at the scene of the accident in the early hours of Aug. 17. Chacon was taken to the hospital in critical condition and she passed away exactly one month later, leaving behind a 7-year-old son. 

Sarah Brinkerhoff, Draper Library manager, expressed tremendous sadness at the loss of Chacon and her daughter. Brinkerhoff said that being a children’s librarian was Chacon’s dream job, but she’d only had the job for a year when she passed away. “That’s the saddest thing, that she didn’t have the chance to be here that long. She was so wonderful. There was so much potential and so many things she wanted to do,” she said. 

“She loved the library. She loved to connect children with books. She loved programming. She was happiest when she got to work with kids and books. She was so enthusiastic about everything and trying new things. She did great things while she was here,” Brinkerhoff said.

According to Brinkerhoff, Chacon was just getting ready to start a new program she’d created called Curious Kids Crew. The program was centered on reading nonfiction books on a particular subject such as stormy weather or insects, and then exploring that topic during the Curious Kids Crew program with hands-on scientific experiences at the library. Chacon died before the Curious Kids Crew met for the first time, but the substitute librarian was able to carry on the programming she had planned.  

Sierra had volunteered at the library, including helping her mother with the Harry Potter birthday party at the end of July. Brinkerhoff said Sierra was artistic and had created a “pin the scar on Harry Potter” game for that party, following the theme of pin the tail on the donkey. “It was a lot of fun and the kids enjoyed it,” Brinkerhoff said.

Before she went back to school to earn her master’s degree to become a librarian, Chacon was a teacher at Draper Elementary School. 

“I think the best way to honor her is to share a book with someone you love, share that enthusiasm for reading that she had,” Brinkerhoff said.