August 30, 2004
There was nothing Kim Sheley could do but scream.
The Mesa woman watched from her car Saturday evening as her neighbor’s 14-year-old son, Michael Allanson, whom she had visited minutes earlier, was thrown off his motorized scooter only yards away in a deadly collision with a 1996 Buick.
"We were the second car back. We were watching Michael cross the street," Sheley said. "He had a green light."
Police say the Buick that struck the ninth-grader at McKellips Road and 64th Street ran a red light. Sheley drove back home to give the boy’s mother, Barbara Tucker, the dreadful news. "I thought, ‘Oh, how am I going to do this?’ "
Only three weeks earlier, Michael’s 17-year-old sister, Jennifer, had survived a crash in which three of her ribs and both legs were broken.
"I know I will end up in a mental hospital soon, but I have to stay strong for Jen," Tucker said.
Her son had stopped by for a visit before heading south to the home he shares with his father, John Allanson. The mechanically minded teenager was riding a motorized scooter that he tinkered with often.
Sheley said the boy never glanced at the westbound car headed toward him.
"We were watching him cross, and I see the car hit him and he flew up in the air," she said. "I yelled out, ‘Michael!’ "
She and a friend ran to him and found him lying in debris from his scooter.
"He wasn’t breathing," Sheley said. They wanted to try resuscitation, but an off-duty police officer who also had stopped said his injuries were too severe.
The 82-year-old Apache Junction man driving the Buick told police he thought his light was green, though witnesses contradicted that, Mesa police Lt. Ben Kulina said.
Besides running a red light, Olaf Douglas Strommen did nothing else wrong in the 6:20 p.m. collision, police said.
There are no indications that he was impaired by alcohol or medication, police said. He wasn’t traveling at an excessive speed, and he pulled over as required by law after the collision.
"Unless we find some other factor that would indicate negligence on his part, it would be a (traffic) citation," Kulina said. "Age is not a factor at this time, however, we are going to continue our investigation."
Strommen, who does not have a listed telephone number, could not be reached for comment.
Tucker said she would like to see him stopped from driving.
"They need to take his license away," she said. "I hope that’s a law."
Police said that Michael, a student at Shepherd Junior High School, was doing everything he was supposed to — wearing a helmet, crossing on green and riding his scooter in the crosswalk.
"It shows you the randomness of fatal accidents," Kulina said.
Kulina said Strommen was devastated when he found out that the boy was dead.
Kathy Bareiss, spokeswoman for the Mesa Unified School District, said counselors today will help students troubled by Michael’s death.