Teen Memoriam Stories

Katherine Joyce Hancock

“Do not drive if you’ve been drinking. Period…. it is not your right to endanger other people’s lives...”

Katie, the fourth of five children, was born on April 26, 1999 in Murrieta, CA. Her personality quickly earned her the nickname, “Queen Katherine.” By the time she was five, it changed to “Tricky Chicky” because her ability to find and sneak sweet snacks amazed us all. She called the pantry “Pan-treat”. Katie’s strong personality was balanced by a soft heart. She idolized her sisters, adored her brothers, and loved watching T.V. snuggled close to family members with “Puppy” and “Blankie” (both of which she still slept with at age 15). Around age seven, Katie discovered she could get people to laugh by making funny faces and sounds, talents that she began working to improve every day. She loved to laugh, but having people laugh with her was even better. Katie also loved to draw and continually had a pen in her hand to create manga-style people and animals, especially ponies. She practiced everywhere—including the backs of two couches and, throughout middle school, on homework assignments.

We moved to Utah in 2008, and when it was time for 7th grade, Katie attended where her dad worked and kept him company in the car driving to and from American Fork for the next three years. Katie did well enough at school, but she cared more about friendships than getting high grades. With her open smile, genuine kindness, and efforts to cheer up and entertain, Katie made many, many friends.

Katie completed 9th grade in May, 2014, and discovered a hidden passion in June, Bikram Yoga. She loved every sweaty minute of the 5:30 a.m. class she attended six days a week. She was so excited and we were so proud of her determination and self-discipline. On July 21, 2014, Katie talked a friend into attending a ball at This Is the Place Heritage Park. They rented gowns and enjoyed swishing around the dance floor and curtsying. When two little girls shyly asked if she was Princess Belle, Katie beamed at them and said, “YES!”

On July 24, 2014, around 1:15 p.m., our family started a drive on SR73 on the way to Tooele. I was working that day so the front seat was free and Katie got there first. David remembers everyone happily talking—then the car spinning. He called out; James, and Isaac replied, but Katie did not. David, James, and Isaac were taken to the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray. Paramedics pronounced Katie dead at the scene.

The other car reeked of alcohol and an open container of Jack Daniels was found. Tests later verified that the driver’s blood alcohol level was almost twice the legal limit.

Our message is simple: DO NOT DRIVE if you’ve been drinking. Period. You aren’t able to think clearly and it is NOT your right to endanger other people’s lives simply because you have a driver’s license. DO NOT DRIVE WITH ANYONE WHO HAS BEEN DRINKING. Period. No one is indestructible; you may never make it home.

Our home is too quiet now. Katie was love and light and laughter, and we miss her more than words can say. At school, David remembers her talking in the halls, by the lockers, and in his classroom. Katie’s friends stop by to talk and share memories. We miss her witty and (often) sassy comments. I paint my nails an iridescent turquoise that reminds me of Katie’s favorite color and bird, the peacock, and I wear a “Katie” necklace every day, even at yoga… sometimes I feel her with me during class. Her siblings have pictures of Katie in their rooms and memorial jewelry of their own. We try to talk about her often and laugh more because we know that’s what she’d want, but there are days when the sorrow is almost unbearable. We just take one day at a time.

The Hancock Family,

David, Libby, Brittany, Audrey, James, Isaac… and Katie

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