When it became clear Taylor Llewellyn would never recover from the trauma sustained in an Oct. 22 head-on crash, her mother gave her one final directive.
"When I said goodbye, I leaned down, kissed her and said, 'Baby, go save lives'," Nicolle Llewellyn said.
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Taylor has. Five so far, through the donation of her heart, kidneys and other major organs. The quality of another 75 to 100 individual lives will be dramatically improved by other donations.
"Her beautiful blue eyes ... somebody will be able to see through her corneas," her mother said. "She's the light of our lives and we will miss her terribly. But we want her life not to be in vain."
The Chaparral High School senior, and member of the varsity pom-pon team, was taken off life support at Littleton Adventist Hospital Oct. 23, a day after the Nissan Rogue Llewellyn was driving crossed State Highway 83 north of Franktown at 12:07 p.m. and struck a 2011 Toyota Sienna van near Bayou Gulch Road.
Llewellyn's school day was done, and she was heading home to Franktown after having lunch with friends at Chick-Fil-A.
Her parents believe she fell asleep. Alcohol or drugs are not suspected, and phone records show Taylor was not texting or talking at the time of the crash. Eyewitnesses said the car drifted across the lane.
"I know that sounds unusual, but ... she was a dancer at Miller Dance (Studio). She did poms. She worked a part-time job at Adriana's Mexican Restaurant," Nicolle said. "As any teenager, they burn the candle on all ends."
The man in the van, 60-year-old Henry Cornelius of Elizabeth, suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized at Littleton Adventist. The Llewellyn family hopes they can speak with him someday soon.
Both Taylor and Cornelius were wearing seat belts.
Nicolle said Taylor was looking toward a future as a dental hygienist and debating what college she should attend. She had rejected earlier plans to become a veterinary technician because she didn't have the heart to put a pet to sleep.
Taylor liked school, hated math, and lived for dancing and poms. She attended Crossroads Community Church in Parker with her family. She was witty, laughed easily and had just started dating.
"She was excited for that chapter of her life," her mother said.
She also was an organ donor, a decision made after a cousin died in a car crash years ago. When Taylor got her first driver's license, the heart on the front indicated she had checked "yes" for organ donation.
"The surgeon told us she would never leave the hospital, and we immediately knew that's what she would want," Nicolle said. "Her heart is in Arizona. Her lungs are still here in Colorado. But the amazing story is her kidneys."
Taylor's rare combination of blood type and antibodies made her kidneys a match for two people who had been told their prospects for new organs were almost non-existent.
The Llewellyns hope someday to meet those two people and others who've received Taylor's organs.
"She's dancing in heaven with Jesus - complete and whole and unbroken - and we know that," Nicolle said. "Faith is huge when you go through something like this. We will miss her terribly, and we know our darkest days are ahead. But God never makes mistakes. We feel blessed we had her for the 17 years we did."
Llewellyn is survived by her parents Steve and Nicolle Llewellyn, and older brothers Skyler Chase and Clayton, both Chaparral graduates.
The family is gathering money to install a bench at Chaparral in memory of Taylor and other teens who have died.
Services are set for 10 a.m. Oct. 30 at Crossroads Community Church, 9900 Twenty Mile Road, in Parker.
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