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The City Journals

Eastlake crossing guard jumps in front of oncoming car, saves student

May 02, 2022 08:23PM ● By Julie Slama

South Jordan crossing guards Heidi Cook and Lorena Marcotte worked together to save a second-grade student from being hit by an inattentive driver in the crosswalk near Eastlake Elementary. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

“I didn’t think. I just reacted. I had to make sure the girl was going to be safe. I jumped right in front of the car. I had to get the driver’s attention.”

Eleven-year crossing guard Lorena Marcotte stood in the intersection of Isla Daybreak and Top View on a bright sunny, but cold day.  She wore her fluorescent yellow crossing guard jacket and held her stop sign in her hand.

Her back was toward Top View as she waved a second-grader to cross with her scooter at the four-way stop.

All of a sudden, her crossing guard partner Heidi Cook yelled “hey, hey, hey.” Marcotte, with her back toward the intersection, turned her head and caught a car “rolling right through the stop, heading right toward the girl.”

“She didn’t see us, despite wearing big yellow jackets, having orange cones set up and having our stop signs up. She was just zoned out,” Marcotte said. 

After jumping out in front of the car, the driver “slammed on her brakes. Thankfully, she wasn’t going that fast,” Marcotte said.

Cook saw the driver’s face.

“She was in a daze, not paying attention and was a little shocked when Lorena jumped out in front of her,” said the third-year crossing guard.

Thanks to their quick actions, the girl safely made it to school, said DeAnn Bland, South Jordan Police Department crossing guard supervisor.

The rest of the morning, they continued to cross the rest of the students. Afterward, the two crossing guards admitted being shaken up.

“We asked ourselves why, and what she was thinking. We just wanted her to be paying attention,” Cook said, still remembering their frustration.

The two crossing guards have worked the double crossing together for about one year and have undergone annual on-the-job training. They also have First Aid and CPR training and know to keep their eyes on both the cars and the students crossing, Bland said.

The two shook off the incident until a few days later when another driver almost hit Marcotte, the only two close calls she has had as a crossing guard, and both happened in the same week.

“We both know the job; I’m just grateful that nobody got hit and that Heidi was there to yell and alert me,” she said.

After the second near-miss, the crossing guards reported both incidents. They also shared a note that the girl’s mother had written, and the girl delivered the next day to Marcotte.

“It was a thank-you note and signed from ‘a grateful mom,’” she said. “I just cried when I read it. It was really impactful. I carry it with me.”

Bland said it’s important for motorists to be aware of their surroundings, especially in school zones.

“The longest drivers ever tend to stop is just a matter of seconds,” she said. “A few seconds matter. It meant all the world to that mother and her daughter.”

Since then, Marcotte and Cook make sure they can see all the traffic as well as the students and the school at the intersection, especially as more students are resuming walking, scootering and biking to school this spring

“We just want everyone to slow down, go even slower than you think. Make a complete stop — all the way. Just look out for these kids, it’s illegal to enter the crossing until they’re across, so don’t squeeze through. Avoid school crossings if you’re in a hurry or better yet, leave earlier,” Marcotte said.  “I love this job. I love the kids. Most kids are excited to come and start their day and tell us all their stories as we cross the street. Some aren’t morning kids, they drag their feet, but they still say good morning. We’re just here to start their day off with a smile and make sure they’re safe.”