RIVERTON, Utah — A family has been left devastated after an 18-year-old, who was set to graduate high school in the coming weeks, was killed in an accident last week in Riverton.
Police say Taegan Brown was riding in a Jeep Wrangler with friends Friday night when he fell out of the vehicle. Brown, who was in the front passenger seat, was not wearing a seatbelt and holding onto a strap instead. As the Jeep headed down Park Haven Lane, the strap broke and Brown was "flipped" out of the Jeep, which had no doors.
Brown hit his head and was taken to a local hospital in critical condition, but later died from his injuries.
"He was just a light to everyone around him," said Kiana Miller, Taegan's older cousin.
That light hasn't dimmed for Miller, who said while Taegan had his whole life ahead of him, he had accomplished a lot in such a short time.
"I will say that he did more in his 18 years of life than I think most people do in a lifetime," said Miller.
The loss of Taegan has hit a tight knit family pretty hard.
"It doesn't feel real, it doesn't seem like it could even be possible, you know, for Taegan to be gone," said Brown's aunt, Jami Rowen.
Over the past few days, the community has rallied around the family. On Sunday, a vigil organized by friends at Riverton High School, where Taegan was a senior.
"He is loved by so many and that is comforting to know that he's just that great of a guy," said Rowen.
Miller says Taegan was a loyal brother to his siblings and a loyal friend to many.
"We had, one young man that came up to my aunt and uncle afterwards, and just told them, 'I want you to know that I'm here because of your son that a while ago, I had contemplated committing suicide and he really helped me get through that hard time,'" recalled Miller.
Taegan was very active growing up, playing different sports and was an avid Utah Utes fan.
Miller said her cousin also enjoyed camping, hiking with his family and even fixing cars with friends.
While nobody can replace her cousin, Miller has plenty of memories that she will cherish.
"His presence, his smile, he gave the best hugs and he wanted to tell you he gave the greatest biggest hugs," said Miller.
Along with a GoFundMe page, the family picked out hashtags like #LiveLikeTaegan and #LoveLikeTaegen to keep Taegan's memory alive.