hannah wagstaff teen memoriam 2008

This photo was taken about 12 hours before Hanna’s death on August 12, 2008. Our family was camped for the evening in preparation for a handcart trek to begin early the next morning. While we were waiting for our friends to arrive, Hannah got out her violin. She looked so beautiful silhouetted against the evening sky that I rose up from my seat and found the camera. This is the look she gave me when she realized I was taking pictures of her. It’s a poor shadow of the actual scene, but we are so grateful for the photos now.

We arose early the next morning to begin the trek up Fairview Canyon. I woke up with an inflamed sciatic nerve, and could tell that I would not be able to hike up and down hills all day. We reluctantly sent our two daughters with the group and planned to meet them at camp later in the day. About 30 minutes later we received the awful phone call.

The driver of the truck that hit Hannah didn’t see the group, which included a horse-drawn wagon, a handcart and about 10 pedestrians. The truck struck the handcart from behind, killing Hannah instantly. Hannah was pushing the handcart alongside her good friend and her friend’s father, with two younger children pulling at the front. It is a miracle that all five were not killed, as the handcart was literally reduced to bits of kindling. Hannah’s eight-year-old sister was picked up and thrown into the barrow pit by an alert young man who perceived the danger before the impact. The man who organized the event was hit and killed as the truck swerved into the oncoming lane where he was attempting to wave the truck down.

No one intentionally caused this tragedy. A series of smaller errors in judgment combined to produce it. The driver said that the sun was in his eyes. We also feel that the organizers of the trek used poor judgment both in planning the route and not furnishing a flag car.

We miss Hannah more than we can say and we will never “get over it” until the day comes that we are reunited. However, we know that Hannah wants us to go on living, so we are doing our best, but it is pretty hard sometimes. My husband and I are both more conscious now of small errors in judgment while driving. All of us repeatedly get away with small mistakes, and tend to be overconfident while driving, often even multi-tasking. It would be wise to say something like the following to ourselves each time we slip behind the wheel: “Driving prudently is the only task I should be focused on until this vehicle is stopped and the ignition is turned off.” It might sound trivial, but the fact is that every day some among us don’t “get away” with the small mistakes and then the weight and speed of the vehicle magnifies the small error into a tragic crash.

…all of us—repeatedly get away with small mistakes, and tend to be overconfident while driving, often even multi-tasking. It might sound trivial, but the fact is that every day some among us don’t get away with the small mistakes and then the weight and speed of the vehicle magnifies the small error into a tragic crash.

2008 Teen Memoriam
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