CRIME, POLICE + COURTS

Family of young girl killed in I-15 pileup plead for people to drive safer in the snow

Mar 10, 2022, 6:22 PM | Updated: Dec 29, 2022, 11:43 am

(Wreckage from the crash that killed Jax Phillips.  Photo: Utah Highway Patrol, Twitter.)...

(Wreckage from the crash that killed Jax Phillips. Photo: Utah Highway Patrol, Twitter.)

(Wreckage from the crash that killed Jax Phillips. Photo: Utah Highway Patrol, Twitter.)

OGDEN, Utah — They’re calling it a surreal nightmare that came true.  The family of a 3-year-old girl who was killed in a multi-car pileup on I-15 in Ogden is pleading with people to be more careful on the roads, especially in bad weather. 

I-15 pileup

The family of Jax Phillips is still in shock, trying to process her death.  Investigators say she was in a PT Cruiser that that overcorrected to avoid another car that lost control. And the Cruiser was hit by two other vehicles, leading to the I-15 pileup.

Dani Phillips calls her daughter “my mini-me.”

She said, “She was my best friend.  I literally spent 24/7 with this child and it was very hard to sleep without her.”

Loved to make jokes

Phillips says her daughter loved to make jokes, especially when pretending to offer someone a high-five, then yell “psych” and walk away.  She says Jax was always able to make people happy.

“Her little smile and her stupid, silly little laugh can get anybody out of any bad mood,” Phillips said.

Jax was born with cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus, a condition that accumulates water in the brain. It can damage brains and cause skulls to expand.  Her grandfather, Darin Tea, says Jax had to go through several operations as an infant, including a shunt placement in her brain to relieve the pressure.

Tea said, “She had a rough start. But that little kid had a way of proving everybody wrong and progressing to a level that we didn’t think she was supposed to get to.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family pay for funeral expenses, but Tea says their main goal is to convince drivers to slow down in snowy weather and to never drive distracted.  He says if one driver hadn’t lost control, Jax would still be alive.

He said, “If you’re going 20 miles an hour under the speed limit and it’s snowing, it still may be too fast.”

Tea says Jax had a way of bringing people closer, creating a bond that could gel people together.

 

Contributing: Mike Anderson, KSL TV

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Family of young girl killed in I-15 pileup plead for people to drive safer in the snow