They were fast friends. Two dancers and a singer. Spirited, poised young women on the verge of adult-hood, all of life open before them.
That's how friends and family say they'll remember Jennifer Neddo, 16, and Elizabeth Phillips, 15. The two girls died early Thursday after they were struck by a vehicle (see story on A2).A third girl, Jaimie Cogswell, also 16, remained hospitalized Friday in serious condition, suffering from multiple injuries.
"It's really hard to understand why it happens and how Jaimie came out so lucky and why Jen and Liz died," said Don Cogswell, Jaimie's father. "Those girls were in my house several times a week for extended periods of time. I'll miss them a lot."
The three girls were walking to a friend's house shortly after midnight on Thursday when they were hit. The car, driven by Laramie J. Huntzinger, 16, jumped a curve on Hollow Mill Road and struck the girls. The car careened through a fence at the home of Paul and Sherrie Kasteler, 6736 S. Benecia Drive (2710 East).
Thursday afternoon, the broken fence was gone and the shredded flower patch was smoothed back in place. Neighbors gathered at the Kastelers' home earlier to help restore the yard that was the scene of so much carnage.
In this neighborhood, the sense of community is strong. A steady stream of vehicles passed by the home, looks of disbelief and horror on the faces of many passers-by.
On the Kastelers' patio, two bouquets of white daisies and baby's breath bound by pink bows marked the spot where the two girls died hours earlier.
"Something like that can not happen and there not be some mark," said Terry Drip, who brought the bouquets to pay tribute to the girls.
Liz, Jennifer and Jaimie were "good school chums" who did a lot of things together.
On Wednesday, the three girls went to Brighton High School to register for their junior year, take school pictures and choose lockers. That night they gathered at Liz's house for a sleepover.
Jennifer Neddo was a reserved teenager who didn't seek the limelight but was someone whose grace and talent attracted friends, said Kent O. Nate, bishop of the Cottonwood Heights Fourth Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
That Jennifer was the youngest and only daughter of the Neddo family also made her special, Nate said. One woman who knows the Neddo family remembers that whenever any of Jenny's brothers were next to her in church, they always had an arm around her.
"She came at a point in the family's life when we really needed someone. She was such a comfort to my mom and my mom to her," said David Neddo, Jennifer's oldest brother.
Jennifer was an honor student and a member of the choir. She was to join the a cappella choir this year. Clara Neddo, who is an educator, was trying to steer her daughter toward a teaching career, but Jennifer was undecided about her future.
"She was the kind of little girl that walked into a room and it lit up," said Clara Neddo. "She never did anything wrong in her life. She was just a superb little girl in every way. She is going to be missed more than I can say."
Like Jennifer, Liz Phillips was the only daughter in her family. The family moved to Utah three years ago from Maryland.
Despite a debilitating back condition, Liz danced almost from the time she'd learned to walk, according to her family.
"She didn't move without dancing in one form or another," her father, Thomas, said. "
Twice a week Jaimie and Liz both took dance lessons from Monica Maio, a Jazz dancer who lived nearby. Participation in the classes during summer dwindles; on Monday they were the only girls who showed up.
So teacher and students sat and talked for an hour about the kinds of things often on teens' minds: what they planned to wear on the first day of school (for Liz, well-known for her eclectic style, an orange plaid outfit) and a movie being released in December they couldn't wait to see.
The movie will star Jared Leto, a television actor they thought was cool. They used a photo of Leto as a "spot" for practicing their dance turns.
Wednesday morning Jaimie and Liz showed up for Maio's class at the wrong time. They left her a note, adorned with hearts, saying they were sorry they missed her and that they were going to register for school. They signed it with a heart and the word "always."
Liz's drawings won acclaim at Brighton High, and her wacky dress earned grins and raised eyebrows from friends and neighbors.
"Her way of fitting in was to stand out a bit," Thomas Phillips said. "She was her own person. But, she could relate to a 2-year-old or someone much older, and often did."
Drip said Liz "danced definitely to her own tune. She was a beautiful girl . . . God must have needed two more angels."
Liz was a vocal advocate of organ donor programs. Her cornea, skin and possibly some bone will be given up so that someone else can benefit, Mary Phillips, her mother, said.
Thomas and Mary Phillips found the following poem in their daughter's room after her death. "This is real typical of her, too," Mary Phillips said Friday. "She'd be thrilled to be published. She was a writer through and through."
My life is like my closet, easily cleaned up.
But, who would take the time to bother?
The funny thing about this is,
that I cleaned the damned thing yesterday.
The closet is something that I can see.
It stares me in the face and says,
`This is your fault.'
My life is easily blamed on others.
- Elizabeth Phillips, 16.