South Jordan • The death of one of Elk Ridge Middle School's most popular teachers began as a rumor in the hallways.
When it was announced that longtime physical education teacher Randy Treglown died after being hit by a pickup truck as he jogged to school Wednesday morning, the chatter went silent, one student said.
"It was really quiet in the halls," said Elk Ridge ninth-grader Allison Vorwaller. "There was a lot of crying. It was just really, really hard."
Allison and her sister, Sarah, were one of many who were drawn to the intersection of 4000 West and 9800 South, where the 51-year-old educator was struck. By the end of the school day on Tuesday, a corner at that intersection had been decorated with flowers and handwritten notes.
Janet Leota and her daughters, Allysen and Madeline Blankenship, remembered Treglown as a P.E. teacher who expected a lot of his students, but expected the same of himself. If his students were running laps in class, he would often find the one lagging behind and run alongside, Madeline said.
Leota's family also knew Treglown as a dedicated friend. While they lived in his LDS ward a few years ago, Treglown always made sure to visit the family as their assigned home teacher.
"At Christmas, he would dress up as Mr. Grinch and come read us the story," Leota said. She smiled as her voice cracked, fighting back tears.
Leota said she saw the crash scene as she took her daughter to school Wednesday morning. When she later found out that Treglown had died in that collision, she bought flowers and placed them at the corner. The mementos only multiplied after that. At Treglown's home just a few blocks away from where he was hit, Christmas lights were on and flowers and balloons covered the house's front steps.
Treglown was a popular, career educator at the school, said Jordan School District spokeswoman Sandra Riesgraf. He had been with the district for 28 years, the past 16 as an instructor at Elk Ridge.
"This is just a tragedy beyond words for us," Riesgraf said. "Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and that school community, which is a rather tight-knit one."
South Jordan police Lt. Matt Evans said the accident occurred about 6:40 a.m. as Treglown entered the crosswalk at the intersection. He said the pickup was southbound on 4000 West when its right fender struck Treglown as he jogged east on 9800 South.
Evans said the 32-year-old driver of the pickup admitted to police that he ran a red light.
It was dark at the time of the crash and Treglown was jogging alone, wearing black pants and a dark green shirt, Evans said.
He said the driver, who immediately pulled over and started first aid, said he did not see Treglown.
"Unfortunately two families have to figure out how to deal with [the death]," Evans said. "[It's] tragic."
Evans said the driver was cooperating fully with investigators. No citations were issued, but Evans said the accident remained under investigation and would likely take several weeks to complete.
Treglown lived in the area and frequently jogged to work. Several walkers and joggers in the area witnessed the crash, said Evans, who added that police were not certain if any students had witnessed the accident. Crisis counselors were dispatched to the school to comfort students and staff, Riesgraf said.
Elk Ridge Principal Larry Urry said that when he first informed Treglown's fellow teachers of the accident, many of them burst into tears.
Urry said the staff was trying hard to keep the school day as normal and routine as possible; it fell to Urry to announce Treglown's death to students, as they began their classes.
Urry said Treglown, married and with children, was a hard-working, dedicated and popular teacher who arrived early, taking on seven daily physical education classes most teachers have six classes as well as coaching sports teams.
"I could trust him implicitly... He was a neat person," Urry said.
Jason Rock, a social studies teacher at Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Salt Lake City, said he was a student of Treglown's at Oquirrh Middle School when Treglown taught there in the late 1980s. He described Treglown as "very easy to relate to, good with the kids, open and approachable the kind of a guy you'd want teaching your kids."
Rock, who wasn't Mormon and came from a family of social drinkers, remembers appreciating Treglown's sensitivity during a lesson on drugs and alcohol . "The lesson was not spun in a moral way," Rock said.
Among the mementos left at the site where Treglown was hit Wednesday were a pair of bright green running shoes.
Janet Leota, who lingered with her daughters after reminiscing about their former teacher and church member, pointed to the shoes and said : "He must have made someone run a lot in those shoes."
"He lived what he taught," she said.
Reporter Janelle Stecklein contributed to this report.