15-year-old high school student dies in UTV crash

Taylor Patterson would ask her mother for Starbucks coffee and to get her nails done. She wanted in on the chats between the women in their 20s and 30s at East Cobb Pediatrics where her mom worked.

Jennifer Bales has worked at the office with Taylor's mom for 15 years — as long as Taylor had been alive. She said Taylor, as a girl, would ask women for their shoes so she could walk around in them.

The sassy soccer player who loved shopping and shoes died Sunday when she crashed an off-road utility vehicle, known as a UTV or side-by-side, in Kansas while visiting family.

Taylor was driving the 2017 Can-Am Maverick with a 60-year-old man as a passenger when she lost control on a gravel road and flipped at 4:45 p.m., said Capt. Jim Hughes, of the Saline County Sheriff’s Office in north-central Kansas.

Saline County has about 55,000 people, according to the U.S. Census, and is 160 miles west of Kansas City.

Hughes said a preliminary investigation shows she wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Taylor was transported to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Days later, Taylor’s sister Alissa Patterson still doesn’t want to talk about what she saw in Kansas.

She and some other family members were also out on UTVs that day but had gotten back to the house earlier.

“We figured they were just out still having fun,” she said. And then they heard screams.

“She was the glue that held us all together,” Patterson, 26, said.

A passerby reported the overturned UTV. The passenger was able to crawl from underneath the vehicle and was not seriously injured, the captain said.

Some Maverick models can weigh about 1,300 pounds, according to the Can-Am website.

Taylor had just wrapped up her freshman year at Woodstock High School and was in Kansas with her mother, Stephanie Patterson for a family member’s birthday.

Patterson has been a manager at the medical practice’s Johnson Ferry Road location for the last 25 years.

“We’re more like family really than just co-workers,” Bales said.

She said Taylor was excited to work part-time as a hostess with her older sister. The family was looking at getting a car for Taylor.

A family friend started a GoFundMe account with a goal of $5,000 on Monday, but it had raised more than $18,000 as of Wednesday morning.

“I want her to be able to do with her baby what she wants with her baby,” Bales said through tears, “ ... get the casket she wants and get the balloons she wants.”

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