My daughter, Kellie Ann McElroy, died in a rollover car crash on Wasatch Blvd. on November 18, 2011. She was 19 years old. Kellie had only lived in Salt Lake for a few months. She was a vibrant young woman and full of life. She was the third of five children. She loved people and made everyone feel like they were her best friend. She was a nanny to two beautiful little boys, whom she absolutely adored.
What makes her story a little different is that her best friend and cousin was the driver of the vehicle. The tables could have easily been turned around as I learned that this was not the first time our girls had done what they did that morning. And sometimes, my Kellie was the driver.
What they would do is drive, beginning on the south end of Wasatch heading north and, waiting until they were on a section of the road where no houses were located, they would speed up and then let off the gas to coast as they enjoyed the city lights below. This time, however, it didn’t end the same as it had in the past. The car flipped end over end, landing on its roof, and then it caught fire. Kellie never made it out of the burning car.
I know that neither my daughter nor my niece ever thought that one of them would die from the choice they made to speed. These tragic stories don’t end with the loss of a life; the emotional wounds will heal but the scars will always remain. And it doesn’t end there, either. Although the entire story could have played out and ended exactly as it did, because there was speed involved, my niece is now part of the legal system and having an additional price to pay.
Kellie’s Dad and I both requested no legal action be taken against my niece, but she was still charged with negligent homicide. If speeding wasn’t part of the equation, my niece would have never walked into that courtroom. Speeding, reckless driving, texting while driving, DUI…they just simply are not worth the price that has to be paid when a crash occurs as a result.
Kellie was a daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, granddaughter, great-granddaughter and friend. Her loss has affected hundreds. If sharing Kellie’s story can prevent another life from being cut short, it will be worth it to me. Young people have so much to offer and so much life to live still. Don’t think it can’t or won’t happen to you. We have no guarantees in life. Be wise, be smart…be safe!