Taylor “Tayla” Marie was an outgoing 17-year-old. On May 13, 2013, Tayla and her boyfriend made plans to meet for a late movie to discuss a recent argument they had. I helped her with her hair, told her I loved her and to drive careful and watched her drive away. The details of what happened while they were at the movies are still unclear, but it is believed that they left the theater around 11:35 pm. At 11:48 p.m., I received a text message from her boyfriend letting me know that Tayla was speeding. I didn’t want to distract her while she was driving, so I decided to wait until she got home to talk with her. Unfortunately, she never made it home that night.
I waited 30 minutes for her to come home. When she never arrived, I contacted her boyfriend to see if he knew where she was. He told me he hadn’t seen her since they had left the theater, so I decided to go look for her. As I traveled down the freeway, I could see a crash on the opposite side of the freeway, but because of the barrier, I couldn’t really see what had happened. I decided to turn around and investigate. I will never forget the feeling of helplessness when I came upon the crash site and saw Tayla’s car. Those images will forever be burned into my memory.
As I got out of the car, I was approached by a Highway Patrol officer who told me that I couldn’t stop there. I explained that the car was my daughter’s, and I wanted to know where she was. I will never forget his words, “I’m very sorry to tell you this, but your daughter didn’t survive the crash.” I asked what happened and was told that Tayla was traveling at a high rate of speed — over 100 miles per hour — causing her to lose control of her car. The car had spun several times before impacting the sound barrier, where it then rolled three times. Tayla was ejected. I was told she wasn’t wearing a seat belt. I have never known my daughter to get into a car without putting on her seat belt. She would always be the first person to remind others to wear their seat belt, so I still am unsure as to why she wasn’t wearing hers that night.
My message for other drivers is to always wear your seat belt and to drive at or below the speed limit. Many teens believe they are invincible. I had talked with Tayla several times about the dangers of speeding and my worries about her rolling her car. Her response was always the same, “Mom stop worrying. Nothing bad is going to happen to me.” I honestly believe that if she had been wearing her seat belt, she would have survived the crash. My hope is that others will learn from Tayla’s story and that lives will be saved.