LITTLETON, Colo. — Most attendees at the Littleton City Council meeting Tuesday wore red in honor of Liam Stewart, a 7th grader who was hit and killed while riding his bike to school on Oct. 17.
The crash happened just after 8 a.m. near the intersection of South Elati and South Arapahoe Drive, near Euclid Middle School. Speakers during the meeting's public comment period urged council members to consider new ways to improve the safety of streets in the community.
Littleton middle school student fatally struck by vehicle while biking to school
“I know that there is nothing any city council member can do to change what happened to my son. But I hope what happened to my son can change the hearts and minds of each person on city council," said Liam's father, Josh Stewart, who was the first speaker Tuesday. “Five years ago, city council adopted a transportation plan for our neighborhoods. Their thinking was not best for our citizens, and I ask you to think differently. Back then, they may have thought kids just don't play outside anymore. I ask you now to think why are people scared to play in their own yards.”
Above all, Josh wants city council to think of his son whenever they encounter a pedestrian or cyclist.
"I ask you now, when you think of a bicyclist, imagine my son, Liam, making his way to school, pedaling a bike he is still growing into, a bike that he bought with his own allowance," Josh concluded.
Maria Mandt also spoke to councilors, saying she has spent more than a decade working at Children's Hospital Colorado as a pediatric emergency medicine doctor.
“The anatomy of the pediatric patient is different. Kids' vital organs have less protections, their ribs break easier and their skulls are crushed with less force. All of these physical developmental differences result in more severe and widespread injuries in children compared to adults when hit with the same force," Mandt explained. “Slower speed limits, intelligent road designs and barriers and narrowed streets have been shown to reduce mortality rates.”
In addition to her medical background, Mandt is a Littleton mother who walks her child to Euclid Middle School every morning.
“I have cringed as cars hit the brakes when a child comes suddenly into view, narrowly escaping an accident, and I have physically pulled my child back as a car speeds down Elati and drifts across the painted line of the bike lane," Mandt said.
She was walking her child to school the morning Liam was hit.
“I am the bystander who gave CPR to Liam for eight minutes before EMS arrived," Mandt said through tears. “I, along with my 12-year-old son, watched Liam be hit and dragged by the vehicle that killed him. Liam was following all of the rules. He was in the bike lane. He was simply biking to school in an unprotected bike lane.”
She, along with many others at the meeting, wants Littleton to have a future where young children are safe riding their bicycles to school.
“It is a basic right for all of our citizens to be safe during their daily commute," Mandt said to councilors.
Woman accused of careless driving after allegedly hitting Euclid Middle student
Beth Ann Hutchinson, 39, of Littleton faces a charge of careless driving resulting in death in connection with Liam's death. Littleton police said Hutchinson remained at the scene and was cooperative.
A crash report lists the "most apparent human contributing factors" for the driver as the morning sunrise, which caused a glare, and the fact that she looked and did not see the bicyclist. She was going around a roundabout at the time of the crash, heading east. Stewart was heading north in a marked bike lane at the roundabout, according to the report.
One witness said the driver had "a fast acceleration" through the roundabout. Witnesses told police sunglare is a problem in the area, according to the incident report.