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SALT LAKE CITY -- No family should ever have to tell the story of how their teenager died on a Utah highway, but on Tuesday several did. The parents and siblings who lost loved ones in car accidents in 2008 hope to save lives by telling their stories.
Xander Jordan lost control of his car in Draper after a rainstorm. He died at the scene. He was 18 and working on his private pilot's license. Investigators say he had been texting.
Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens nationwide
"It's hard to not know exactly, because we weren't there. No one really saw. It's hard to know, to make sense of it," said Xander's father, Troy Jordan.
Erica Trudy Knell overcorrected her car going up Parley's Canyon. Thrown out, she suffered severe heart trauma. She was a dancer, a freestyle aerialist on her way to the U.S. Ski Team. She was 17. She wasn't wearing her seat belt.
"Her heart necklace survived when her own heart couldn't, and sometimes I just don't know why it keeps on beating every day," said Ellen Knell, Erica's Mother.
Utah teen drivers represent a small percent of all licensed drivers, but cause more than 3 times as many crashes as the average driver
Parents and family members told of the worst moments of their lives: learning of a child's death. To make matters worse, those deaths could have been prevented.
Travis Lindsay of Spanish for was traveling on Interstate 15 at University Parkway when he lost control of his car. He was ejected and died at the scene. He was 18, and he was not wearing a seat belt.
"Hug your family often and love them unconditionally," Travis' mother, Tina Lindsay said. "You never know when they will be taken from you and you may not get the chance to tell them how much they mean to you."
Travis' sister, Shelbi Lindsay, said, "I can only hope that no other families will have to experience the struggles that many families and friends in this room have experienced over the last year."
According to the Utah Department of Health, motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of teenagers in our state. In 2008, 29 teens died--69 percent were males; 55 percent were killed in a single-car crash, and only 24 percent were wearing seat belts properly.
"Each of these teens was much more than a number. Each was a friend, a neighbor, a classmate and a relative; someone that had dreams for the future but will never see them fulfilled," said Kevin Condra, with the Utah Department of Health's Violence & Injury Prevention Program.
The goal now for the Utah departments of health and public safety is to distribute this information to every driver education class.
Each family's story is in a booklet titled "Thirteen Stories We'd Rather Not Tell." Even though each has a different story, they stand together to prevent more tragedies.