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SALT LAKE CITY -- Investigators trying to determine what caused a fatal crash involving a Utah State University student say it's possible the teen was distracted, perhaps posting to Facebook while driving.
Taylor Sauer, 18, of Caldwell, Idaho, was an elementary education major at USU. She was driving west on I-84 about 13 miles east of Mountain Home, Idaho on Saturday. Shortly before 9 p.m. her car struck the rear of a tanker trailer. Her car was then struck by another vehicle pulling a trailer. She died on scene.
It's very sad that a mistake an 18-year-old made is something she's never going to get another chance at.
–Brad Warr, Taylor Sauer's uncle
Idaho State Police say Sauer was wearing a seat belt and alcohol was not a factor.
Boise TV station KTVB featured Sauer in a report just over a year ago when she received the station's Distinguished Student Award.
"I'm ready to leave and go farther and take on the world," Sauer told the station. "In this way (teaching), I think I get to help more than just one person. I get to help at least 20."
Sauer's family says people would come to her for cheer. "They just knew that Taylor would make them feel better about what was going on in their lives," said Brad Warr, Sauer's uncle.
Law enforcement officers investigating Saturday's crash discovered that at 8:48 p.m. — about 10 minutes before the crash — Sauer posted a message on her Facebook page. She wrote: "I can't discuss this matter now. Driving and Facebooking is not safe!"
Family members say this wasn't her first bout with distracted driving.
"Taylor had done that in the past, and we know, as a family, that probably or may have contributed to the accident," Warr said. "Unfortunately, we'll never know exactly what happened."
Idaho State Police told the Logan Herald they recovered Sauer's phone at the crash scene, and they are looking into the possibility that the Facebook post was made while she was driving.
"It's very sad that a mistake an 18-year-old made is something she's never going to get another chance at," Warr said.
Police also told the Herald there were no skid marks at the scene and the evidence collected is consistent with the possibility that Sauer didn't see the semi-trailer, wasn't paying attention or was distracted.
A cybercrime team is now assisting in the investigation.