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WEST JORDAN — The only survivor of a crash on Interstate 215 said he and his girlfriend were heading to visit the University of Utah when they were hit by an elderly woman who was driving the wrong way.
Jose Mejia, 26, was driving* on eastbound I-215 Friday afternoon when a 77-year-old woman entered I-215 near 3300 South, driving the wrong direction.
Police said the woman’s vehicle hit Mejia’s gold Ford Taurus near 2000 East after clipping two vehicles while driving against traffic for three or four miles.
Mejia’s girlfriend, 26-year-old Willow Carver, was killed in the crash.
“The last thing I remember was seeing a car in front of me get out of the way and then I couldn’t get out of the way and then it kind of just goes black from there,” Mejia said. “I kind of came to and I tried to see if Willow would wake up and then I heard somebody scream don’t touch her.”
It wasn’t until Mejia woke up in the hospital that he was informed the wrong-way driver and Carver had died in the crash.
“We don’t know how Jose survived — we’ve seen those pictures,” said Mejia’s brother, Renee Lepe.
An investigation into the driver’s state prior to the crash was ongoing and the incident sparked concerns about the elderly and driving privileges.
“There are those hard conversations that we might need to have with our loved ones,” said Utah Highway Patrol Sergeant Nicholas Street on Friday.
“Trust me, an uncomfortable conversation is much better than this experience,” Lepe said.
Mejia’s brother said their family also feels for the wrong-way driver’s loved ones.
“We understand the pain that they’re feeling,” Lepe said.
Carver was from Portland. She and Mejia both worked at a restaurant where he is a sous chef.
They were in Utah visiting family and thinking of moving here so she could continue her studies in psychology at the U.
Mejia said he hopes Carver will be remembered for her kindness.
“She would be there for anyone,” he said.
Mejia said this is the second time he was hit by an elderly driver at fault.
“It just doesn’t seem like it’s a real thing,” he said.
Mejia added he suffered a broken arm and won’t be able to work for at least two months.
Two GoFundMe accounts have been established to help cover Mejia’s medical expenses** and Carver’s funeral costs**.
Family members said they would like to send Carver’s remains back to Oregon.
*Authorities originally reported Carver was the driver and only occupant in the Taurus. Troopers with the Utah Highway Patrol confirmed Saturday that Mejia was also in the vehicle and was the driver.
**KSL.com does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.