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Girl killed in traffic accident ID'd

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WEST JORDAN — Copper Hills High School Principal Todd Quarnberg said Jaxen Henderson had a huge personality.

"She was one of those kids you knew was coming down the hall before she got there. Everybody knows her," he said.

Quarnberg himself said he knew the 17-year-old senior very well.

Tuesday, the school was in mourning following a car accident Monday afternoon that claimed Henderson's life. For Copper Hills, it was the latest incident in what has been a tragic 10 months for the school.

Five students have died within the past year.

Henderson, of West Jordan, was pulling her car into New Bingham Highway at 5150 West about 3:15 p.m Monday when she was struck broadside by a pickup truck.

"She pulled right out in front of the truck," said West Jordan Police Sgt. Drew Sanders. "I don't know if she didn't see it. The other driver didn't have time to react."

The speed limit on the highway is 50 mph. An adult male driver in the truck and a passenger suffered minor injuries.

She pulled right out in front of the truck. The other driver didn't have time to react.

–Sgt. Drew Sanders

"Everybody loves her," Quarnberg said of Henderson. "She wasn't shy about stating her goals and aspirations. In my mind, there's no doubt she would have accomplished what she set her mind to. ... She was bullheaded in a really great way."

Henderson's primary interest was in the field of medicine, he said.

She was a cheerleader her sophomore year, but decided after that year to focus on her academics, even taking classes during the summer. Quarnberg said her grades were very good and she would have graduated with an associate's degree along with her high school diploma in the spring.

Quarnberg said she was also very active with extra- curricular school activities.

"There's not a game or activity she didn't attend," he said.

During the morning announcements at the high school Tuesday, Quarnberg told the students one of his fondest memories was the time he spotted Henderson watching a baseball game without a coat in the rain, and was noticeably shivering.

"She said 'I forgot my coat, but I can't leave. I've got to support my boys,'" he said.

Grief counselors were at the school Tuesday to help them talk about the tragedy. Quarnberg said it was part of the healing process.

For many students, Henderson's death was the latest in a series of tragedies that have struck the school in recent months.


Jose Ceballos, 17, was killed in January when the truck he was riding in, along with five others, rolled on 8400 S. Grizzly Way, along the east side of the school.

In February, the body of 16-year-old Braxton Anderson was found in a field near 8675 South and 4300 West where he and three other 16-year-old boys were reportedly drinking alcohol in a field the night before.

About the same time, Anjelica Chandler died after suffering a fatal diabetic reaction. A fifth student was also killed in a traffic accident.

"It's been very turbulent year over here," Quarnberg said.

But he has faith the students would be able to move on.

"Believe it or not, there are great things that come from this. You find out what kind of people your students are. I don't worry about the future of our society. The kids are great. They handle things sometimes more professionally than adults do. They're going to move on and do great things, just like (Henderson) would want them to."

Quarnberg said his message for other students would be to tell their parents and friends everyday that they love them.

"Wear your emotions on your sleeve because you never know. Jaxen did. There's no one who is going to have any doubt that she loved them. That's who she was."


Written by Pat Reavy with contributions from Lori Prichard.



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