Amanda was 16 years old and had just completed her junior year at Box Elder High School in Brigham City, Utah. Amanda was an amazing girl. She was full of life and lived life to the fullest. She was funny, caring, happy, beautiful, friendly, outgoing and a prankster. Amanda loved riding horses, mudding, camping, listening to country music, going to bonfires and spending time with family and friends. She also loved the ocean and boogie boarding. She loved auto shop and bought an ‘85 Chevy Blazer 4×4. She also loved her 4-wheeler. She would go find a mud puddle and get stuck, muddy or both. Amanda didn’t care how much trouble she would get in—it was worth it.
Amanda was born in Lodi, California. In 2007 we moved to Utah. She was the baby of the family. She had three older brothers who made her tough. She loved shooting guns and wanted to go hunting. Amanda also loved animals. She wanted to be a vet or a horse trainer. She was perfect and so fun to be with. She was my shopping buddy and her Daddy’s mud angel. Amanda and I had just gotten back from California the day before the accident. I am thankful I had 10 fun days with her in California.
On June 28, 2013 our lives changed forever. The Brigham City Police Department knocked on our door at 5:30 p.m. and told us our daughter was in a single car accident and in critical condition. They were flying her to the University of Utah Medical Center. Amanda left home that day around 1:00 p.m. and was going to Malad, Idaho with two friends. On their way back from Malad, the driver overcorrected getting on to I-15 and lost control of the truck. The truck rolled down an embankment about six times. Amanda and the other passenger, Tyler Stuart, were ejected from the truck and landed in the middle of I-15. A semi-truck blocked the freeway so the teens would not get run over.
Her friend died instantly and Amanda was in critical condition. She was face up on the road and had suffered severe brain damage, a broken neck and a laceration from her forehead over her eye and to her ear. She was in the deepest coma someone could be in. When we saw our baby girl, she was bruised, scraped, cut and her face was so swollen that she didn’t look like Amanda. After five days in a coma, we had a meeting with the doctors and talked about the quality of life she would have. Basically, she would never wake up or be able to do anything. That wasn’t any kind of life for her or us. We made the decision to take her off life support and let her go. On July 5, 2013, our angel returned home. A piece of our hearts died with her.
The driver broke his back in the crash. It was his second rollover accident in a year… he was only 18 years old. The Highway Patrol officer told us that the teens were not wearing their seat belts. Amanda always wore her seat belt. My husband and I learned at the hospital from her friends that the seat belts in her friend’s truck didn’t always lock. We don’t know what caused the crash; the driver wasn’t speeding, texting or talking on his phone. There were no alcohol or drugs involved.
Amanda told us that she wanted to be an organ donor. We donated her liver, kidneys, pancreas and heart valves. Her heart and lungs were too damaged from the crash to donate. She saved four lives and we’ve met the little girl who got her right kidney. It helps us because Amanda is still here and something good came out of our loss. Amanda will always be loved and missed by her family and friends. She was our mud angel.
As parents, the most important thing we can do is talk to our teens about wearing their seat belts and also to make sure the vehicles they ride in have seat belts that lock. I also feel that teens need a lot of practice before they get a driver license. If I had another teen, they wouldn’t be allowed to ride in their friends’ cars or drive with friends in their car. This was a sad accident that changed three families’ lives forever. After Amanda died, some of her friends wore their seat belts but then they stopped again. If we had known about the seat belts not locking maybe she would be here today.
Amanda would have graduated high school and would be turning 18 in August. We miss and love her so much. I keep hoping it is a bad nightmare, but it is reality, she isn’t coming home. I think Utah should have a seat belt law and a helmet law for bikes and motorcycles. California has those laws and a police officer can pull you over for not wearing a seat belt and give you a ticket. Parents can receive tickets if their children aren’t wearing helmets while riding their bikes. If Utah would adopt these laws, there could be fewer deaths from crashes.
Kyle & Melissa (parents), Nick, Jesse and Eric (brothers)