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Friends hold memorial service for NE accident victim

By: Melissa Gundersen
EL PASO, Texas -- Friends and family of a 19-year-old girl killed in a car crash Monday afternoon went back to the accident scene Tuesday for a memorial service.

Police identified the victim as Jackie Hager. She was killed in a two-car crash on U.S. 54 near the Diana Drive exit.

According to police, Hager was in the back seat of a Pontiac Grand Am.

Three other people were in the car.

Officers said the car stalled in a lane of traffic when a Ford F-150 driven by 52-year-old Craig Lewis rear-ended them.

Tuesday, about 65 people brought flowers, candles and balloons to remember Hager.

"I completely broke. I mean, I've known her for six years; she was really, really sweet and outgoing when we first met. It was really hard to believe," said friend Ashley Bates.

Bates described Hager as a fun girl who loved to dance, paint and collect anime.

"The sleepovers that we had that was the funniest because, I mean, we all got together and just messed around, joked, laughed," Bates said.

Bates said it still hasn't sunk in yet.

"I think that it's just a big nightmare," said Bates.

Another friend, Melissa Kiraly, said holding a memorial service was important to her because it's a way to deal with the pain.

"We have to keep her memory going. We have to. She may be gone from this world, but her memory's not going to die," Kiraly said.

A lot of friends told KFOX14 they've been more careful when getting behind the wheel.

Officials at AAA said going into winter, they expect to see a spike in the number of cars breaking down. They offer some tips to keep people safe.

"Make sure you are aware of your surroundings and general location," said AAA spokesperson Doug Shupe.

Shupe said in an ideal situation drivers should start slowing down and gradually pull over.

"Pulling off the road in most cases and on most roads you should exit onto the far right shoulder as far off the road as possible remaining a level ground," said Shupe.

Once a driver is as far off the road as possible, he said they should turn on the car's flashers and put up any other hazard equipment.

"Flares, warning triangles or reflectors," said Shupe.

In this care, Shupe said it's usually the safest to stay inside your vehicle until police arrive. But sometimes people can't pull over, like in Hager's case.

Shupe said if a driver can't pull over, they should first put on the flashers. Then if possible, get out of the car and go to a safe place.

For Hager's friends, they question why they never got a call for help.

"She had so many of our numbers. Any one of us could have gone and gotten her. I was up and out of the house by noon so if she would have messages any of us we would have been there in a heart beat. We could have prevented it," said Kiraly.

Shupe recommends any time the season changes, drivers should get their car's electrical system, battery and brakes checked.



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