PHOENIX — On a table in the living room are precious mementos like pictures, a poem, and a pair of glasses. To anyone they may not look like much, but for Jennifer Brindle these items mean the world.
"She was truly special," Brindle said. "She was our hugger. She always wanted to give everyone love."
She's talking about her daughter, 16-year-old Hannah Brindle. She describes the teenager as a vivacious, caring and honest person who was a dedicated student, hardworker and someone who was passionate about cars.
"She was an angel on earth," she said. "It's a huge loss and our house is so quiet and cold without her now."
Wednesday, March 15th, started like any day. Hannah's mother says she went to the mall with a girlfriend. They did some shopping, got their nails done and came back to the house. A bit later they left, but not before Hannah said what would be one final goodbye.
"They said they were getting ready to go and I told them to drive safe and be careful," Brindle said. "At the time it wasn't raining that bad. The last time she hugged me, she hugged me so tight and she just hugged me longer than normal. It's like she knew something was going to happen. I wish I wouldn't have let her gone that night."
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Around 9pm, Hannah and her three friends were driving along East Guadalupe in Mesa when authorities say she lost control.
"Her friends say she tried so hard to save it, the roads were so bad, the rain was so bad," Brindle said. "They said she kind of fishtailed and they thought she had it corrected. All of a sudden her car jerked right and the two front tires were on the curb skidding down and then she hit that rock."
The rock caused the car to flip and go into a pole.
"Anywhere else they would've been fine," Brindle said. "I believe they all would be alive, that rock is what launched her."
Brindle remembers arriving to the crash site the night of the accident wanting to see her daughter. She remembers the flashing lights, all the law enforcement and seeing the car.
"I could see her car flipped upside down and wailing and screaming in the rain, 'Not my baby!' Not my baby!'" she said. "They said speed was a factor along with weather but she never sped, she was my safest most calm, drove like a grandma driver."
Hours later, she learned her daughter and two others had died; one survived. Every day since she thinks about those involved and says her heart aches.
"I'm so sorry to the other parents," she said. "I don't have the words. She didn't want this, she would've never hurt them. The support is the only thing getting us through this nightmare of hell we're in because I just want to crumble up and die."
Brindle has since gone back to the crash site where a growing memorial now stands. She says she's walked up and down that stretch of road and believes if that boulder wasn't on the side of the road, the car wouldn't have flipped and everyone would've survived. She also noticed there are no storm drains along the roadway so on days where there's inclement weather, there's nowhere for the water to go.
"It wasn't her fault, it's the water and the rock," she said. "There was a canal right behind where the crash was but the water was on the road and didn't have any way to get [to the canal]. There's nothing to get it to drain in there."
16 years of smiles, hugs, now memories all gone. For her family, the grief is too much to bear but they're doing what they can keep moving forward. Brindle though says for now she's holding onto the memories and isn't sure if she'll ever be ready to say goodbye.
"There are so many people who loved all the kids that were in this," she said. "They were all the best kids."
Brindle says her daughter loved helping others and donated her organs which helped at least 20 others. She also is very appreciative of the community's support, saying that's the only thing that's helping them through this difficult time.
The family has also set up a GoFundMe to help with unexpected funeral costs. If you'd like to help the family you can donate here.
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