Reporting Andrea Menniti
TURLOCK (CBS13) – With his children tucked into bed, Mike Mayes was awake, preparing for a hunting trip. His morning turned upside down when a driver trying to avoid police lost control and hit the family home in Turlock earlier this month.
“It was right in our house, right in our face,” Mayes said.
The crash quickly turned deadly. The passenger, 18-year-old Taylor Vessel, took her last breath in front of strangers trying to help.
“She moved for a second or so,” Mayes said. “It was over very quickly. Somebody was holding her hand, the girl next door was. She wasn’t by herself at all.”
Police were on scene seconds after the Nov. 3 crash, but the man behind the wheel was already gone.
It’s not clear how the young woman knew the driver.
Surveillance pictures captured from earlier in the evening show a man detectives want to question.
“You can’t start your healing process because you don’t know who’s at fault,” family friend Diana Garcia said. “We don’t have enough details to know what happened that night.”
At a carwash fundraiser Monday, family friends voiced their frustration but focused on raising enough money to give Taylor a proper goodbye. She was a graduate of the Stanislaus Military Academy and a student at Merced Junior College with plans of going into the criminal justice field.
“She was really nice and we miss her,” family friend Jackie Garcia said.
Back at Mike Mayes’ home, the constant reminder of the deadly crash has been too much for his family to bear. He said they plan to move.
“It’s been hard to sleep. All of us have been having nightmares and stuff, just what we saw,” he said.
Mayes urged the driver to come forward.
“Man up and take responsibility,” he said.