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LEHI — Kilee Krause is described on the Facebook page that now bears her name as "a bright shining star," "beautiful inside and out" and "an inspiration."
The dancer and Southern Utah University student, currently in a coma in a Las Vegas hospital, has been a "beautiful example on how to treat and love others." She "can light up a room" and tries to make sure "no one was ever forgotten."
It was raining on the day of the accidents on I-15 that injured five, including Krause, and the teen was going no faster than 55 mph, according to police. She was on her way from Fillmore, where her family had recently found a new home, to the St. George temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to try to make a decision regarding serving a mission for the LDS church.
She had always planned on serving her church, but with the recent announcement that females can serve missions at 19 instead of 21, she found herself faced with the decision of whether to go two years earlier than planned. So she went to pray.
Kilee, described as an "extremely careful driver," began to hydroplane Oct. 12 at about milepost 36 in St. George. She struck a motorhome and spun into a guardrail, at which point the driver of another car struck her driver-side door.
The girl was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George before being flown via Life Flight to University Medical Center in Las Vegas. She was put into a medically induced coma to help her cope with "major head trauma, multiple breaks in her chest and a collapsed lung," according to Aaron Watson, the bishop of her former LDS congregation in Lehi.
The Krause family had moved to Fillmore only a few weeks prior to the accident, and although they were quick to make friends in their new town, their main social network remained in Lehi. So Watson decided to make a Facebook group for community members to be a support for one another, hoping and praying.
5K Run and Fundraising event for Kilee Krause. Bring the whole family and participate in one or more of the following to raise money for Kilee:
- 5K Run: $10 per person or $25 per family (registration begins at 10:45am; Run at 11:30am)
- Lunch: 11:00am - 2:00pm, hot dogs and drink $3, nachos and drink $3 or hot dog, nachos and drink $5
- Bake Sale and Boutique: 11:00am - 2:00pm
- Auction: 12:30pm
Location: Veterans Park, 850 W. Main St. Lehi.
Date: Oct. 27, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
More information here.
What followed was an outpouring of love — words of hope and promise from those who could not bear to think of the alternative.
"Your smile and especially your beautiful spirit lights up the room whenever you walk in," wrote Sophia Hernandez. "You have a beautiful effect on people, Kilee, and I hope you know that."
Soon, the group was more than 350 members strong, each with a personal connection to the girl that, more often than anything, was described as a "shining light" or "bright star" because of how she treated others.
"We love all the times that you danced with us and made us feel so special. We know you are strong and we want to be like you. We are praying for you," wrote Emma and Annika Mecham, whom she used to babysit.
Kendall Krause is certain his daughter hears the messages of support. When the Lehi congregation's primary children sent Kilee cards of encouragement, tears streamed down her face and the pressure in her brain subsided, just as it did when her parents spoke to her. She may not have been able to react, but she knew she was not alone.
"The outpouring of love has been absolutely overwhelming. Everyone should be as loved as this little girl is," Krause said. "She is just a wonderful young woman who set such a good example for those who know her."
Her former bishop agreed.
"She is truly a unique young woman, and I do not say that lightly," Watson said. "Despite her exceptionally good looks, her exceptional intellect, her exceptional maturity, she also has an exceptional level of humility and concern for others."
More than 100 posts in the group testify to the truth of Watson's words. Some speak of how they hope their children can follow Kilee's example; others, of how they've followed her example themselves.
Kilee has been taken off sedatives, but remains in a coma for the time being. Her father reported a "significant glimmer of progress" early Sunday morning, though. He said she lifts her head from the hospital bed and moves her hands toward her face, scowling as if to say "I am not happy with the current situation."
She moves her legs a little and opens her eyes periodically, he said, but has not shown the ability to see anything. In the early hours of Sunday morning, it was confirmed she had developed pneumonia. Still, her father believes she just needs time. And in his case, the tragedy has given him new perspective.
"Cherish your children. You just never know how long you have with them. Kilee hasn't passed, but it's still scary when she's not here," Krause said. "Things happen so quickly. You just never know."
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