Jenks teen looks forward after surviving 2017 car crash that killed family, friends – 102.3 KRMG – Car Accident
JENKS, Okla. — The community rallied around a Jenks teen in 2017, after she was in a car crash that killed her mother, brother and two of her friends. Now, nearly five years later, she’s a high school graduate and looking forward to the future.
Lauren VanHorn is gearing up for college in the fall. She’s pushed past the pain of that car accident to achieve academic and athletic success.
Lauren lost her mother, Erin, her brother, Zach, and two friends, Lizzie Edwards and Beck Kitterman, in a car crash in July 2017 on Interstate 35. Lauren fractured her vertebrae and suffered a severed Achilles tendon in the wreck.
The injuries could have ended her soccer career. But Lauren endured surgeries and grueling rehab, and pushed through the pain to play again. She tried out for her high school soccer team less than a year after the accident.
“I was very stressed, and I was super nervous. Already trying out for a team is stressful as is, but I was kind of just even more nervous because I hadn’t played in a long time,” Lauren said. “I was a little more rusty, I guess you could say, compared to the other girls.”
In May, Lauren scored a goal on senior night.
“Senior night was very bittersweet, like it felt really good,” said Lauren. “It was really sweet to say like, finally I finished soccer, and it was a good feeling.”
Lauren said the full magnitude of the tragedy she suffered didn’t hit her for about two years. She was still in shock. She said once she recovered from her injuries, “then I started grieving everything mentally.”
She still very much mourns the loss of her brother and mother, who many called the “fun mom.”
“She would take everyone to go get snow cones. We always had the best snacks in our pantry,” Lauren said. “I know that she’d be very proud of us. What we’re doing now, what we’re accomplishing, our goals for the future.”
Lauren said she’s even closer now with her father and little sister, who also survived the wreck. She’s leaving Jenks with many great memories of high school, and is so excited to head to the University of Oklahoma in the fall. She said her faith has helped her move forward after the tragedy.
“You just have to keep pushing through, and hold onto that hope that God has a plan, and you just have to trust that,” said Lauren. “Don’t just soak in the sadness and the grief. Try to look for positive things, and just try to keep moving forward because there is good to come, and time heals.”
Lauren plans to major in biology and wants to pursue dentistry. She said she always wanted to attend OU, just like both of her parents did.
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