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Mother of wrong-way crash victim speaks out about elderly driving

(KSL TV)



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SALT LAKE CITY – The mother of the woman killed in a wrong-way crash has asked families to have that conversation with their loved ones about when it’s time to stop driving.

Lorre Sanford talked to KSL about living every parent’s worst nightmare, after her daughter was killed Friday when a 77-year-old woman turned the wrong direction on Interstate 215.

The two vehicles slammed into each other head-on. Sanford’s daughter, 26-year-old Willow Carver, was killed.

“The shock and disbelief of it — I mean, it still doesn’t feel real. It still feels like a terrible dream,” Sanford said.

Sanford, who lives in Oregon, came to Utah to attend Willow’s funeral service Tuesday night.

She never expected a state trooper to come to the front door of her home with news that her daughter had been killed.

“I just never dreamed that it would be such terrible news,” she said. “It still doesn’t feel real. It still feels like a terrible dream.”

The wrong-way driver, a 77-year old woman, was also killed.

Sanford said she felt compelled to share the message that family members should have that often difficult conversation with their older relatives about when to stop driving.

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“We all feel a little uncomfortable about talking to mom and dad, and grandma and grandpa about the driving, and whether it’s still good idea,” she said.

It’s too late for her daughter, but maybe not for someone else.

Sanford and her younger daughter both got the same tattoo Willow got just one day before her death as a tribute and reminder.

“We will always be that connection, but it’ll be a visible reminder also of our precious girl,” she said.

Sanford said she’s going to dedicate her life to helping people have that conversation with their elderly loved ones.

She said she’s not advocating taking drivers licenses away, but maybe attending some type of safety class when drivers reach a certain age.

It is a tough talk to have, she said, but a lot better than what happened to her daughter.

Willow’s boyfriend, 26-year-old Jose Mejia, was in the car with Willow when it was struck. He told KSL he remembered trying to get out of the way of the car that was headed right towards, him but then everything went black.

“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,” Mejia said.

Sanford set up a website in Willow’s honor with tips and resources for speaking with older drivers at willowcarver.org.

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.

*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.

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Alex Cabrero

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