Our Cadee Bug, Cadee Celeste Conner, “3C,” was born to be an athlete and at 5’11” tall with long, blonde hair, she could have been a princess if she wanted to. But instead she drove a truck, swam, surfed, longboarded, and could hip hop like nobody’s business. She was a proud Lady Mustang at Herriman High School where her school spirit always shined. She played on the Varsity lacrosse team, was a team captain for the sophomore basketball team, and also a member of the Junior Varsity team. She was a 4.0 student and never accepted anything less than 100%.
Cadee’s favorite things were texting friends, making people laugh, painting her nails, sleeping in, cuddling with her dog, “7Q,” horseback riding, eating blue frosting until her teeth turned the same color, shopping at The Buckle, and all things basketball. Cadee’s favorite colors were teal and pink. Her favorite saying was, “Be the change you want to see.” She dreamed of earning a basketball scholarship to either Notre Dame or UConn where she would then move on to dominate in the WNBA. She also dreamed of becoming a pediatrician, or a tattoo artist. Cadee always had chapstick and gum with her because, as she said, “You never know when you’re gonna get the kiss of a lifetime.” Piña Colada was her favorite chapstick . . . it smelled like the beach. She was full of energy and sincerely loved living life.
Nothing about her was ordinary.
In Cadee’s last basketball game, she scored 21 of the team’s 32 points before she sustained a season-ending ankle injury. After surgeries on both ankles, her hard work and determination throughout her recovery and rehab prepared her for the start of this year’s season. She was killed on October 29, 2015. She lived 16 years, one month, and 6 days. It was nine days before basketball tryouts.
That morning, we let Cadee ride with a friend to school. It was the first time we’d let her go with another teenage driver and I was sick with worry. She was blasting her hip hop music at 6 a.m. when I opened her bedroom door. She was straightening her hair. I gave her a hug and smelled her and wrapped my arms around her and told her how lucky I was to have her. She came skipping down the stairs when her friend got there to pick her up. . . it was the last time I would see my little girl skip down those steps.
I was at work when the phone rang about 1 p.m. A detective was on the line and I asked if everything was OK. He said no. I screamed and ran to my car. I prayed I was wrong, but I knew she was gone.
Cadee and two of her friends had gone out to lunch. They were stopped at a red light at an intersection on Mountain View Corridor, just a half mile from home. The light turned green and the person behind them impatiently honked at them to go. As they started to cross the intersection, they were hit by cross traffic, causing the truck to roll. The car hit the side of the truck that Cadee was riding in. We waited three days before we could see her body because of the brutality of the crash.
It’s our obligation that the minute we accept the privilege of sitting behind the wheel, we realize that we are taking everyone’s lives into our hands. Driving distracted, speeding, or being an aggressive driver are not optional. We watched a community mourn our daughter. But now they’ve forgotten that each one of us could be the next cause of destroying someone’s life. It’s infuriating to see people forget the pain and go back to old habits.
We miss her noise; the house is so quiet without her. She brought life with her. Cadee illuminated our lives with her love, joy, beauty, kindness, compassion, and talent for 16 wonderful years. We know our angel is now waiting for us to one day join her in heaven.
She will be deeply missed, but her memories will be everlasting.
My sister was my best friend. Our bedrooms were right next to each other, and at night, we’d sing songs back and forth to see if the other one was awake. We used to sing the song, “Do You Want to Build a Snowman,” from the movie, “Frozen.” I really miss that.
We went to the rec center during basketball season every night. I’d help her work on her moves. We played lacrosse and golf together. And she could beat me at everything, even XBOX. She was perfect at everything she did except Spanish class, which we had together. We sat by each other and I’d write as big as I could on my tests so she could copy my answers.
I always gave my sister a hug and told her I loved her each morning before school. But the morning of the crash, I was running really late and I didn’t get to say goodbye or even see her. I didn’t get to tell her, “I love you,” and that was completely not normal. You just never know when your last word, your last action is going to be your last.
If I could say one thing to other drivers, it would be that you need to be aware of others around you on the road. You always have to be a defensive driver and defensive passenger because just like that, you can flip someone’s whole world around. And for us, we don’t get a rewind button.
David “Buddy” Conner
(Cadee Conner’s 15-year-old brother and best friend)