Part of Shannon White wished her daughter, Summer, had not stopped to help a woman she saw lying in the line of traffic on the Kansas Turnpike on Sunday night.
“But I’m just so proud of her, because you want your child to be that person who stops to help,” Shannon White said Monday, as Summer recovered from injuries in a Wichita hospital. “She kept saying, ‘Mama, I couldn’t leave her.’ ”
Summer White of Edmond, Okla., was hit by a car as she tried to pull the woman to safety. Summer was upset, her mother said, upon learning the 32-year-old woman from Texas had died.
“I told her, ‘The last thing that woman saw was your face, knowing that help was on the way,’ ” Shannon White said. “There’s not a better way to leave the world than having that kind of comfort.”
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The woman, who lived in Lake Dallas, Texas, was a passenger in an Impala being driven south by her 15-year-old son, said Capt. Joe Bott of the Kansas Turnpike Authority.
The car drifted off the road and struck a Ford Explorer parked on the shoulder just before 10:30 p.m. less than three miles south of the Mulvane exit.
The impact knocked the Impala back into the right lane of southbound traffic, Bott said, and a black pickup struck the Impala.
A truck carrying Summer and three other teenagers stopped.
“The woman had been partially ejected from the car, and there was more traffic coming,” Shannon White said.
A 17-year-old who had also been in the truck yelled at Summer to get out of the way. But Summer didn’t want to leave the woman to get hit again.
A U-Haul truck hit the Impala, knocking it into Summer and the woman the teen was trying to help.
The woman, who had suffered a broken leg in the initial collision, died later at Via Christi Hospital on St. Francis, Bott said.
Shannon White said when she and her husband, Roger, first received the call about their daughter, they were told Summer was unconscious.
Summer went to the hospital with spinal injuries, and no one was sure of the extent.
It turned out not to be as serious as they thought, Shannon White said, with no major injuries to Summer’s spinal cord.
“We couldn’t be happier, even with everything that’s happened,” Shannon White said.
Summer was in fair condition, while the 17-year-old girl, who had been with Summer, was in good condition Monday afternoon. No other serious injuries were reported.
Bott said it’s not clear why the 15-year-old veered off the road. He “doesn’t remember anything about it,” Bott said.
The time that elapsed between the initial collision and the U-Haul hitting the Impala wasn’t much more than a minute, Bott said.
Summer and the three girls work as groomers for a professional horse trainer and had been in Wichita at a show. They were returning to Oklahoma when they drove up on the accident.