No one ever thinks it will happen to them, but life is about choices and sometimes they aren’t necessarily yours.

Vanessa was just 19 when she lost her life. She was mother to a 3-month-old baby whom she loved with all her heart. Vanessa lived life to its fullest, enjoying every moment. A beautiful girl full of heart and passion, Vanessa loved sports and was a great pitcher at softball.

This is how I lost her. Vanessa had plans to see a concert with her girlfriends but, being spontaneous, she gave up her ticket and went camping instead. It was early Saturday morning when my phone started ringing. It wasn’t the police or a hospital. It was my youngest brother, and his message was brief. It hit me like a ton of bricks—just like it would hit you. I’ll always remember every word. “Vanessa was involved in a car crash up Ogden Canyon.” All I could say was, “I’m on my way.” I tried several times to call her and even stopped by her apartment, hoping this was a terrible mistake. But she wasn’t there. Immediately, I drove to the hospital, but no ambulance had been sent. It was real. Again my phone rang; it was her friend who gave the news a parent should never have to hear. While being driven down the canyon, her life had ended.

Vanessa was like so many teens who wake up in the morning with hopes, dreams and expectations. I am certain Vanessa awoke that morning, anxious to get back down the mountain to see her baby. She and a group of young teens piled into three different cars and headed down the mountain. The driver of the car Vanessa was in decided to pass the convoy of cars on a blind curve, and, in an instant, they were in a head-on collision with a Ford F350. They didn’t stand a chance and all five teens in the car were instantly killed. The scene of the crash was like a horrible nightmare. It was quiet; no ambulance, just a tow truck.
I just wanted to see my daughter, but all I saw was mangled metal. We waited for hours before officers told us there was no use in waiting. They could not extract the bodies until the coroner arrived.

As a parent, I can’t begin to describe the emotions one feels knowing they will never see or hear their child again. The pain of knowing a small child will never know his mother and we will never hug her again. All because of a choice someone else made. When you choose to drive under the influence and recklessly, you are making the choice not only for yourself, but for someone else’s loved one.

To the young teens reading this, you may say “What a sad story,” and it is sad, but it’s not a story. It is our REALITY. We pray you don’t make it yours.

Five friends died in this crash.

todd2 timothy2 fealina2karlee2

To the young teens reading this, you may say ‘What a sad story,’ and it is sad, but it’s not a story. It is our REALITY. We pray you don’t make it yours.

2010 Teen Memoriam