Kimberly Terry opened her garage door May 18 and found her 17th birthday present - a red 1990 Hyundai tied with ribbons, banners and balloons. A special moment for Kimberly and her parents, Larry and Patricia Terry of Orem.
"It was really neat as a parent to do that for her and to see the look of total surprise on her face," said Patricia Terry, Kimberly's mother.That same red Hyundai became a pile of mangled steel Sunday at about 5:50 a.m. when a car traveling north on I-15 crossed the median at about 3500 South and collided head-on with Kimberly Terry's southbound car.
Kimberly Terry and passenger Seth Smith, 17, also of Orem, were killed instantly. Five other Orem teens packed into Kimberly Terry's two-door car were critically or seriously injured.
Elizabeth Spence, 17, remained in critical condition Wednesday at LDS Hospital. Jeremy Asay, 17, was listed in serious condition at University Hospital. Thomas Adamson, 17, was in fair condition at LDS Hospital. Chad Brammer, 17, was listed in serious condition at Cottonwood Hospital. Eric Sweeten, 18, was released from University Hospital Monday.
Harry Bertelsen, 39, Salt Lake City, driver of the other car, also died at the scene. Carolyn Ray, 34, Salt Lake City, a pregnant passenger in Bertelsen's car, also was injured and remained in critical condition Wednesday morning at LDS Hospital.
Utah Highway Patrol trooper Joe Reynolds said investigators believe Bertelsen fell asleep at the wheel. Drugs and alcohol were found at the scene, but investigators don't know if they contributed to the accident. Results of toxicology tests won't be known for a few weeks.
Patricia Terry said her daughter's death and events surrounding the accident are a parent's worst nightmare come true. Kimberly Terry was supposed to be spending Saturday night at a friend's house and then meet her mother at church Sunday morning. Instead, Patricia Terry was greeted at church by her bishop and a Utah Highway Patrol trooper.
In the past few days, the Terrys have learned that their daughter, the girlfriend she was supposed to be spending the night with, and nine other teens left Orem at about midnight Saturday in two cars to attend a late-night rave music dance club in Salt Lake City. Most in the group did not have parental permission, and some even sneaked out of their bedroom windows. Four of the teens returned to Orem in one car a few minutes before the other seven left in Kimberly Terry's car.
Even though the accident was not the teens' fault, Patricia Terry said other teens can learn a lesson from the tragedy. If you can't tell your parents what you're doing, you shouldn't be doing it.
"Bad things happen when you're out late, and that's why your parents want to know where you are," she said. "That few moments of fun was not worth the grief that others will now live with."
Families of the victims and survivors also are disturbed that drugs and/or alcohol were found at the scene. Patricia Terry acknowledges that tests might show some of the teens, including her daughter, were drinking. However, she does not believe the teens were commonly "partiers" and says they shouldn't be labeled as such.
"Anything we hear that defeats from her memory is heartbreaking to us," she said. "We want to remember her for the beautiful daughter she was."
Investigators, however, agree that even if the teens had been drinking, it likely was not a contributing factor to the accident. Still, Patricia Terry hopes other teens learn that even using drugs and alcohol a few times can be harmful and leave painful memories.
"She was my best friend and she will leave a great void in this family," she said.
Kimberly Terry was the only daughter among four children. Nine years separated her and her older brother. She aspired to be an interior decorator after graduating from Orem High School. She was buried Wednesday at the Orem City Cemetery. Seth Smith will be buried at the same cemetery Thursday.