March 6 started out pretty much like any other day. Work was busy. I got off a little late, went home, got in the shower, and when I got out, my son Marshal told me that Jadean, my 15-year-old daughter, had been home. She’d dropped off her schoolbooks and left again. I asked Marshal if she had taken my work phone with her. I gave her the phone every day after work so that I could keep in contact with her. He didn’t know, so I tried calling the phone, and it rang in the house. She hadn’t taken it with her.
I had been taking six-mile walks after work most days, and I was going out for a walk. I got ready, and as I was leaving there was a news flash on Channel 7/39 about a rollover truck accident on Pamo Road in Ramona. I could hear the sirens from the fire department a few blocks away, so I stopped at the door and looked back at the TV, at the helicopter’s view of the crash. As I stood there I had this thought, just a little thought: I wonder where Jadean is? Then I went out the door and went on my walk.
I cut the walk short and stopped to visit with Cindy and Donny. We had a few beers, and Cindy and I were laughing when the phone rang. It was my boyfriend Dave, wanting to know if I was there. Cindy said, “Yeah,” and hung up. A few minutes later Dave came screeching up the driveway. I was still laughing. I was pretty hammered, and I laughed all the way out to the truck. Then I saw Dave’s face, and I was suddenly very sober. He said, “There’s been an accident.” I looked at him and asked, “What do you mean?” Again he said, “There’s been an accident, Staci, and Jadean…” I yelled, “No, no, no. What do you mean? Where is she?” Dave said, “She didn’t make it.” I yelled at him, “You’re a liar, Dave,” and I ran back into Cindy’s, screaming. I think I was screaming. My mind was screaming. I grabbed the phone and tried to call my best friend and sister Sam. Over and over I dialed. I couldn’t seem to get my fingers to work right.
I dropped the phone and ran back outside. I got down the three porch stairs and just fell on my knees, crying. Dave came over, picked me up, put me in the truck, and drove me home. He told me a lady had showed up at the house and asked for me. When he told her that I wasn’t there, she asked if he was Jadean’s dad. He said that he was her stepdad, and she asked him to please step outside, away from Marshal. The lady was from the medical examiner’s office. She told Dave that there had been an accident. At 3:45 p.m. Jadean had been pronounced dead. She told him that if we had any questions to feel free to call her, and she left her card.
When I got home, Marshal was crying. The card was sitting on my bed. I picked it up and stared at it for what seemed like forever. I took a deep breath and called the number. I said, “My name’s Staci Thrasher.” The medical examiner said, “Oh! Ms. Thrasher, I’m so sorry.” I asked, “Are you sure it’s Jadean? How are you sure it’s Jadean?” She said, “The people who were in the accident with her identified the body.” I said, “Who was she with?” The medical examiner said that the people she was with were Doug Garcia and Shelby Graham. “When can I see my baby?” I asked. She told me there had to be an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death, and then they could release her body to me.
As I hung up I started screaming again at the top of my lungs, “No, no,” again and again. The neighbors, Margaret and Rails, came down. They asked if everything was okay. Dave told them, “No, nothing is okay. Jadean was killed in a car accident. Staci doesn’t want to see anybody right now or talk to anybody.” But Margaret came in anyway and gave me a hug and told me how sorry she was.
I started calling people. I called my mom, but she wasn’t home. Then I called my other two boys, Roah and Dalton. Roah was at school down at Grossmont College. I didn’t think he’d answer, but I figured that if he saw I’d called 100 times, it would make him call me back quicker. Dalton lived with his dad up in Washington State. I called all the numbers I had for them, but nobody was answering. I left a bunch of messages everywhere. I tried calling Sam again, but she was out with Vic, Dave’s cousin, eating dinner. I tried calling Vic’s phone, and once again, I left a message. Sam called right back, and all I remember saying is “Sam” and “Jadean,” and she knew. She started screaming, and then Vic was telling me, “We’ll be there. We’ll be right there.”
My mom called right after Sam and Vic. I told her what had happened, and she said, crying, that they’d be right over.
We started finding out some of the details of what happened out on Pamo from the kids around town, and I knew then that that was the accident I’d seen on TV before I went on my walk. I still didn’t know who this Doug guy was. I knew Shelby. She was Jadean’s friend from school. I thought Doug might be a teenage boy I had met a couple of months earlier at the house, but I didn’t know for sure.
When Roah arrived with his friend Jae, we decided to go out to Pamo to see where it happened. Vic and Sam arrived just as we were leaving, so they joined us. By then it was pitch black, but it was unmistakable where the accident had occurred. Even out on the dark dirt road, the orange spray paint was visible. The twisted fencing and the mashed dirt embankments marked the spot. We all got out of the cars and walked over to see what we could with our flashlights. Marshal found a shirt that was his. He and Jadean used to fight over it all the time. It was just lying on the bushes. We could see papers and all kinds of debris everywhere, but we couldn’t see why it had happened.