For the rest of my life, I will remember the evening of July 9, 2014. My wife, Pam, was at Girls Camp and something told me to stay at work late to finish some projects that needed to be completed by the end of the week. I got home around 10:15 p.m. and 10 minutes later received a phone call. When I answered, I heard a frantic voice on the other end telling me my daughter had just been in a terrible roll-over crash at mile marker 36 on I-15. He then hung up. I could not believe what I just heard. I immediately called the number back, but no one answered.
I jumped in my car to rush to the scene from our home in St. George. As soon as I backed out of the garage, a thought came to my mind that Natalie was dead. I told myself to stop thinking negative thoughts. Then, it came to me again that Natalie was gone. After fighting these thoughts for 10 minutes, I started preparing myself. For the next 20 minutes while I was driving, I thought about what was sure to be at the scene of the crash.
As I approached mile marker 32, all I could see through my tears were flashing lights. Two fire trucks, three troopers, and a paramedic. I pulled in between two of the vehicles. I jumped out of my car as I saw a body lying on the shoulder of the road, covered by a blanket. I knew it was Natalie. As I ran to her, a Highway Patrol officer and the firemen grabbed me and held me back. Natalie was gone. Not for a few days or a few weeks, but forever.
Natalie was our youngest. She was 19 when she died. Her car rolled across the median on the freeway and she was ejected through the windshield. Since she was not wearing her seat belt, Natalie did not have a chance to survive the crash.
I sat on the ground next to my car and waited for the mortuary to come take Natalie’s body. I cried. I prayed. Time seemed to just stop while I was in such agony. I could not believe my beautiful little girl was gone. Just two hours before, life was great. In a single second, our family’s life would change. Then I realized that I needed to make one of the most difficult phone calls of my life. I called each of Natalie’s brothers and sisters to tell them what had happened… there was a terrible car crash and Natalie did not survive.
Natalie was an amazing friend to everyone she met. We all adored her, especially her siblings, nieces, nephews, and cousins. In that split second, the last second of her life, thousands of lives would forever be changed. As we think of Natalie, it is impossible to not think of all the times we will never have with her again. Birthdays, holidays, vacations, as well as hugs and kisses, all gone.
We don’t know what the outcome would have been had Natalie been wearing her seat belt. We do, however, know the outcome of Natalie not wearing her seat belt that night. We love her. We miss her.