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Loved ones speak after teen killed in head-on crash in Taylorsville

Posted at 5:59 PM, May 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-18 21:00:09-04

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah -- We're learning more about the young victim of a head-on crash in Taylorsville. Police say Nevaeh Padilla, 14, was killed when Casey Zimelis-Cook, 19, crashed into a car head-on while running from police.

Thai-Lee Smith and Nevaeh Padilla were pretty much inseparable.

"They had an unbreakable bond. I mean, they were best friends. Nevaeh spent a lot of time here. Thai-lee spent a lot of time at Neveah’s house," says Thai-Lee's mother, Angelita Smith.

Thai-Lee and Angelita Smith were devastated after learning the news Tuesday morning.

"She didn’t deserve to die like that," Thai-Lee Smith said.

Police say Nevaeh was in the car with a few other friends and Zimelis-Cook was behind the wheel. Police tried to pull him over in Millcreek but say he sped off. Police caught up with him again in Taylorsville where they say he turned around and starting driving the wrong way, hitting a car head on at 4500 South Atherton Drive.

"It's not right," Angelita Smith said. "No one will ever see her smile, her laugh."

Police say Zimelis-Cook ran away but was caught a short time later and taken into custody. Nevaeh died on scene.

"Neveah had a whole life ahead of her," Angelita Smith said. "She was a young girl, 14-years-old... She had a whole life. She had a whole future planned."

The Smith's say Nevaeh was full of life.

"She was a great person," Angelita Smith said. "She liked to have fun. She would make you laugh."

A great friend and a loving daughter.

"Nevaeh cared a lot about her family and she always talked so highly of her mom," Angelita Smith said. "She really did. She loved her mom."

It's going to be a hard road for Thai-Lee.

"It's not going to be easy," Thai-Lee Smith said.

Learning to live without her best friend by her side.

"She’ll always have a place in our heart and we’re going to miss her very much," Angelita Smith said. "It’s put a big hole in all of our hearts."

Neveah's family is holding a candlelight vigil for her at the scene of the accident in Taylorsville at 8 p.m. Thursday. Family members have created a GoFundMe to assist the family.