Lehi family remembers mother killed in car crash the night before Mother’s Day

Local News

SARATOGA SPRINGS (News4Utah) – Friends and family are remembering Jacquie Penaloza, a beloved mother of three who was killed in a two-car crash Saturday night.

Penaloza’s sister, Stefany Sanchez recalls driving her sister, mother, two nieces, and nephew home from an event they were working at. They were turning left from Redwood Road onto Pioneer Crossing when their sedan was hit by an SUV.

“I started turning and my sister started yelling, ‘Stefany! Stefany! Stefany!’ When I looked, the car was about to hit us,” said Sanchez.

Witnesses told Saratoga Springs Police that Sanchez had a green arrow, giving her the right-of-way. Nonetheless, she can’t help but replay the scene over and over in her head.

“I was driving so I asked myself if I could’ve looked up and seen the car. I could’ve taken another route and nothing would’ve happened,” said Sanchez.

Investigators said Penaloza, who was sitting in the passenger seat died instantly at the scene.

“I knew something had happened to my sister because they weren’t touching her, they weren’t even looking at her,” said Penaloza. “They put the sheet on her and I lost it.  I started screaming, ‘You can’t leave me! You can’t go! No, you can’t!'”

Meanwhile, Penaloza’s husband, Luis was waiting for his wife to come home.

“We got home late around 10 p.m. and they still weren’t home. We called them and they didn’t answer,” said Luis Penaloza.

Little did he expect, he would have to grapple with the reality that his wife is never coming home again.

“I still don’t believe it. I sometimes feel that she’ll wake up,” said Luis Penaloza.

Penaloza’s family said what’s giving them strength through this tough time is the three children she leaves behind.

“My nieces and nephew lost their mom and that’s something they’re never going to get back. We have to be strong for them because who else is going to be?” said Sanchez.

“Whenever I feel that life is falling apart, I look at them (his children) and they give me the strength to move forward,” said Luis Penaloza.

Sanchez’s 3-year-old niece suffered two broken legs and a broken arm. Her mother suffered three broken ribs and a collapsed lung after using her own body to shield her 6-year-old grandson. They are expected to survive.

Saratoga Springs Police said it is still investigating the crash. As of Wednesday evening, no charges have been filed.

The Penaloza family said they are needing financial assistance with medical bills and funeral expenses. To donate to their GoFundMe, click here

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