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Father of teen killed in crash reaches out to driver with love, forgiveness

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Posted at 6:08 PM, Aug 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 00:37:28-04

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah -- The family of a Utah teen killed in a crash in Eagle Mountain is sending a heartfelt message of forgiveness, after Simon Olsen's father said his family knows the family of the other driver who crashed into his son.

Hailie Godfrey, 18, was driving with 18-year old Olsen, her boyfriend, early Wednesday when authorities said 20-year-old Tanner Evans crossed the center line and crashed into them.

The two died instantly.

Simon's father, Lane Olsen, said Simon was always one to give hugs to everyone. He was an outgoing person, including at his LDS ward.

"His Young Men's leader has always said he was the funnest one in the crowd, and would always just get everyone so engaged, and was always a very positive, upbeat, outgoing kid," Olsen said.

His family described Simon as a daredevil, who lived a full life in his short 18 years.

"When he died the angels rejoiced, because they have received the most beautiful soul," said Olsen, getting choked up as he spoke.

The evening before the crash, Simon's older brother, Chandler, got to spend a few precious hours that ended up being the last time he saw his brother.

He said he and Simon were waiting for Chandler's girlfriend after basketball.

"She was late like an hour which never happens," he said, crying. "So I got to spend a little more time with him just hours before it happened."

He said they talked of motorcycles. Chandler was looking forward to Saturday, when Simon was set to move in with him.

Instead, the next morning he and the rest of the family got the news of Simon's death.

Then hours later, Olsen said he realized they knew Tanner Evans' family very well.

Olsen said he and Evans' father coached basketball together. Simon's brother Chandler was great friends with Evans' brother.

"For five, six years we were all engaged in practices every day, and going to high school basketball games," Olsen said.

He said for him, it was almost better knowing the person and family involved in the crash. He said the Evans family is a great family. Tanner had just gotten back from his mission.

Olsen reached out to Evans' father to let him know they don't have any ill will toward Tanner.

"I just knew that by letting go as a family, that we can heal. Because I knew if we keep anger in our hearts, that we will always have pain," he said.

Chandler said he eventually wants to talk with Evans in person, to express this message.

The family said handling the situation this way is what Simon would have wanted.

"That's why we are the way we are with the situation," Alexis Sparks, Simon's older sister said. "Simon wouldn't want us to hate him, and he's not a hateful person."

Olsen originally created a Facebook post to share his feelings about Simon's death, and his attitude toward the Evans family. The full Facebook post is reproduced below.

As for the Godfrey family, their LDS Bishop, Lance Bandley, said they were just preparing to say goodbye to Hailie as she got ready to head off to Dixie State University.

"All her stuff was packed and ready to go in the front room," he said. "So this is just a shock to everybody."

He said Hailie had been saying goodbye to friends and family over the past several days, including right before she died.

"They were just out one last time, and were headed back home," he said.

Hailie's family lives just around the corner from where the crash took place. Her friends and others in the neighborhood have tied blue ribbons on trees in the area and left blue hearts and posters of support all around the family's home.

Bishop Bandley said the family has a viewing planned for Friday, followed by Hailie's funeral this weekend.

Olsen said Simon's viewing is also planned for Friday, with his funeral service on Saturday.

Here is the full Facebook post by Lane Olsen:

"Today has been the worst day of my life! No parent should have to bury their child.

As a family our hearts go out to Tanner Evans, who was the driver that killed my son Simon and his girlfriend Hailie.

What is crazy about this accident is that we know their family very well, his father was my Assistant basketball coach for AAU, we coached together for 5 years and former bishop. Tanners older son played on the High School team with my son Chandler and they were best friends.

With Tanner coming home last week from his mission we can't imagine the guilt and pain he is feeling. We hold no hard feelings and we love that family!

I spoke to his father Matt, and he says that he is devastated and their family is feeling the same pain and sadness.

I am so proud of my children. When my son Chandler Olsen found out who the driver was, he wanted to drive over and tell the family that we forgive them and have no hard feelings. My daughter Lexi Sparks posted on her FB wall to pray for him and his family. Gehrig Olsen is not angry either.

This is what Simon would of wanted, he loved everyone and would want everyone to be laughing and have no anger.

I'm sure Simon would say "Guys relax I will you see all very soon, I'm skydiving in Heaven and practicing my basketball skills"

Im humbled by the power of forgiveness for this is the only way to heal and move forward.

We used many of the organs in his body, which will affect 30 people. Simon would of liked knowing he helped others in need.

Please pray for all of us and especially the Evans family. This is not easy for any of us, but through God and faith we will get through this most trying time in our lives.

The outreach and love extended to our family has been overwhelming, we have had so many friends and family visit, call from all over the world and hundreds of texts and FB posts. We feel the power of your thoughts and prayers.

It is by this power that we are getting through this most challenging time. We appreciate those that have also donated in Simons behalf, your generosity is greatly appreciated.
Some people say that their is no God, others say we will not have an afterlife.

But I CHOOSE to BELIEVE, I CHOOSE to be HAPPY, I CHOOSE to live my life through my son. And I CHOOSE one day to embrace my son and cry tears of joy.
We love you all!"