Police: Drifting driver had both hands on phone before crash that killed Wisconsin teen
TROY, Wis. (KMSP) - A Minnesota woman had both hands on her cell phone just seconds before she drifted into an adjacent lane of highway traffic, according to a witness. The alleged distraction caused a Wisconsin teen in the other lane to lose control of her SUV in a fatal rollover crash.
The crash was reported at 3:21 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21 in the town of Troy, Wisconsin. According to the St. Croix County sheriff's office, 16-year-old Kyra Faith Hayes of Beldenville, Wisconsin was driving north on Highway 35 when a Ford Taurus driven by 21-year-old Makellia Jensen of Big Lake, Minnesota drifted into Hayes' lane. According to a witness, Jensen had both hands on the phone, seconds before the crash.
Hayes was forced to take evasive action, causing her to lose control and roll her Oldsmobile Bravada several times. Hayes was ejected from the SUV and pronounced dead at the scene. Hayes' family tells Fox 9 further police investigation revealed Hayes was wearing her seat belt at the time.
The vehicles never made contact, but Jensen returned to the scene of the crash after turning around at a crossover. Jensen was not injured and her passenger was not injured. According to Minnesota Department of Public Safety records, Jensen had a suspended license.
The crash remains under investigation by the St. Croix County sheriff's office.
Fox 9 spoke with Kyra's parents on Monday evening. They did not want to comment on the specifics of the crash, or the other driver, until they had further information. But, they hope Kyra's life serves as an inspiration.
"Just think about what you do and realize you're not the only one in this world, and every decision you make in the day sends out ripples, and make sure your ripples are blessing somebody and adding to somebody," said Ione Hayes, Kyra's mother.
A GoFundMe campaign initially created help with funeral expenses will instead be used to create a memorial or scholarship to honor Kyra Hayes. Click here to contribute.
Kyra's parents told Fox 9 their daughter constantly worried about unfairness, and helping her friends, and her life is a reminder that actions matter, on the road and off.
Luke Hayes, Kyra's dad, said she was "beautiful in the fact everything she did for other people because that's really who she was."
"Kyra always found that person who wasn't having the best day, wasn't being treated fairly," Ione said, "I think I would just ask is go help that person, find that person being picked on, maybe isn't being included and make sure they're included."
Kyra was a sophomore at Ellsworth High School. She loved singing, and hoped to one day become a doctor.
For information on Kyra's visitation and funeral, visit keehrfuneralhome.com