Teen struck by driver talks about recovering, wants others to learn dangers of distracted driving

SALT LAKE CITY, UT (KSL) — In the past year, 27 people lost their lives in Utah in pedestrian-related crashed.

Unfortunately, it’s that time of year when we see more of these type of incidents. Experts suspect it’s due to the shorter days and more people still enjoying the outdoors.

Last year, 17-year-old Brielle Frear almost became one of those statistics — that is why she is speaking out. She hopes no one has to go through what she has endured the last 14 months.

Earlier this month, KSL-TV went back to school with Brielle. First up, her dance class. She said she’s a little stiff, but grateful she is back doing what she loves: dancing.

“You can express yourself and it doesn’t really matter if you’re good or bad at it because nobody is judging you,” Brielle said.

She’s also back at Brighton High School.

“I think 90 percent of our world would have just given up given her situation and she didn’t. She fought hard and she’s back here and we’re excited,” said Kelli Miller, assistant principal at Brighton High.

After missing her entire junior year, Brielle finds some of her senior classes more difficult.

“We have to read and stuff, and it’s a lot harder for my brain to focus on things, and so, it’s a lot harder to start reading and then having to answer questions about it because I don’t remember it. I’ll read it, then I’ll forget it,” she said.

But she won’t forget July 26, 2016.

While walking home from the store, Brielle and a friend were struck by a vehicle as the two were walking in a crosswalk at 4800 South near 1350 West in Taylorsville.

“I’ve always learned to just run across the street instead of just walking. I don’t like cars in the first place. I just had a gut feeling: run. But it didn’t go that way,” Brielle said.

Anderson Dasilva, a witness that night, told KSL-TV what he saw. “I look and I see it was like a bullet and it slammed into two girls and they flew several feet into the air,” he said.

Police said the female driver may have been distracted and just didn’t see the girls.

“We went over to room No. 1, which was where my daughter Brielle was, and she was swollen up so much already from the accident,” said Angela Frear, Brielle’s mother. “She was covered in so much blood, but I went up to her and I could tell it was my daughter, but it just didn’t look like her.”

Doctor’s were most concerned about trauma to Brielle’s brain.

“They had to install a bolt into her head to just measure … how much pressure the brain was receiving,” Angela Frear said.

Brielle also had fractures throughout her face, broke her neck in two places, broke her hand, wrist, foot, ankle, ribs, and hip in three spots.

Doctor’s put her into a coma for two weeks. But then, a doctor saw something.

“He (Intensive Care Unit doctor) looked back at her and he looked at me and he said, ‘We have a fighter!’ and ‘I think she’s going to make it,'” said Angela Frear.

That fighter had to relearn to talk and to walk before she could dance. Her mother put up pictures in her hospital room so everyone knew the real Brielle.

“She is a dancer and that’s her love of life,” Angela Frear said.

The crosswalk where the crash happened now has flashing lights.

The Frears have a message.

“We want the story out there. We want people to realize, you’ve got to be paying attention to what you’re doing,” Angela Frear said.

“Pay attention. Look on the road. Don’t be playing. Just drive,” Brielle Frear said. “And for pedestrians, don’t assume you have the right of way. The car will always win. Just look both ways and watch.”

Brielle still has ways to go in her recovery, but she has big dreams. First up is graduating with her class this spring. And when she’s ready, Brielle might try getting her driver’s license.