People were calling from everywhere asking what happened and telling us how sorry they were. Food also started arriving, more food than we had space for. I got the worst headache I’ve ever had in my life, and I lay down and went to sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I thought it was all a bad dream, and then I remembered that I don’t dream. More people were calling, but the only call I took that day was from the donor bank. Jadean and I had talked about being a donor when she got her California ID, and she told me then that if anything ever happened to her she wanted to donate anything that might help someone. We put the little pink sticker on her ID. We didn’t think it would ever be used.
We went back out to Pamo again. Dave wanted to plant a cross where he thought Jadean had died. Vic took a few pictures on his cell phone, and then I had to go. I just couldn’t be there anymore.
What Happened out on Pamo Road?
When I got home, my parents told me that Shelby, the other girl in the accident with Jadean and Doug, had called and was going to come over with her parents. We had learned a little bit more about Doug. He was not the boy I had met in my home a few months earlier. He was a grownup, a 26-year-old man, and I still couldn’t figure out what my 15-year-old daughter was doing with him out in Pamo. I was anxious to talk to Shelby to find out what had happened and why Shelby and Doug made it and Jadean didn’t.
Shelby and her parents arrived. She had a few nicks and scrapes. She told me they had gone out to Pamo to do some four-wheeling. She said, “We were just driving down the road, and when we got to where the dirt started, Jadean took off her seatbelt. I told her she should put it back on, but Jadean said, ‘I’ll be fine.’ ” A little farther down the road they went around a curve and the truck fishtailed. Shelby told Doug to slow down. He hit his brakes, and the car slid out and hit the embankment. It shot across the road into the other embankment, and the truck flipped end over end.
Shelby said, “It took a minute for me to get out of the truck. I was trapped in the back seat. Doug and I pulled Jadean out of the truck, and Jadean kept saying, ‘I can’t believe we wrecked the truck. My mom’s going to kill me. I love you guys — I can’t breathe.’ ” Shelby told her to save her breath, not to talk. Then Shelby tried to call her dad on her cell phone, but there was no service, so she had to walk out in the field. When she came back, Jadean wasn’t breathing. Shelby said she tried to give Jadean CPR, but it didn’t work. She finally reached her dad and said that she thought Jadean was dead and he needed to hurry and come.
I asked if they were out there getting high, and she said, “No, we don’t get high,” and I said, “Well, we found this letter in her schoolbooks last night. Jadean wrote that, in February, both of you went out to Pamo with Doug and Jon and did ecstasy.”
Shelby’s dad looked over at Shelby, but she didn’t say anything. I asked Shelby where Jadean’s journal was. She said she didn’t know. I asked her how they had met Doug. She said that she had met him through Jadean and that he would pick them up in his truck after school and give them rides home. Shelby’s dad said to Shelby, “I thought you said Doug was Jadean’s cousin.” Then to me, “I thought it was kind of odd at the hospital that they [Doug’s family] weren’t upset about Jadean.” Something was wrong, and I felt it. Shelby’s account of the accident left me with more questions than I had before she came.
I called the CHP. I wanted to talk to them. I wanted to know what happened. Nobody called me back. It had been about 18 hours since Jadean was killed, and nobody from any law-enforcement agency had contacted me, other than the medical examiner. The CHP called back later that day while I was gone and spoke to Roah. He told the officer, “My mom really wants to talk to you.” They said they would call back again, but they never did.
We went over to the mortuary. I needed to pick out a casket and make the arrangements for the funeral and the viewing. I remember walking in. I had never been in that place before. I had lived my entire life in Ramona and had never been in that place once. I felt sick, and I just wanted to get it over with. We were told that the coroner had to release Jadean’s body, and then they had to “get her ready.” All I wanted to know was when I could see my baby. I still had not seen her. We went into another room to look at caskets. I remember standing there looking at what my baby was going to spend all eternity in, thinking to myself: I have $12 to my name. How am I ever going to pay for this? The caskets ranged in price from $1500 to $5000. But I noticed in the corner that there was this casket-shaped cardboard box with fake wood-grain plastic covering it, almost like shelf paper. It was $100. That’s the one I picked. My mom freaked and hissed, “No, Staci,” in that way moms do. I started crying and told her, “That’s the only one I can afford.” She said, “Don’t worry about the cost. Pick out the casket, and we’ll take care of it.” I picked out a teal-blue casket, the same color as this sparkly eyeliner Jadean had loved, and then I got out of there.