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Mother Dies One Month After Big Cottonwood Canyon Crash That Killed Daughter

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A woman who was critically injured last month when a car crashed into a parked truck in Big Cottonwood Canyon died Tuesday, family members confirmed.

Brandilee Chacon, 44, was camping in the back of the truck with her daughter Sierra on August 17 to celebrate the girl’s 16th birthday when a Chevy Malibu left the roadway and struck them.

Sierra died at the scene of the crash and Brandilee suffered critical injuries.

“I had that hope that (Brandilee) would recover,” said the woman’s mother, CarolAnn Gudjenova. “Yesterday morning she mouthed, ‘I love you,’ to both me, my daughter, her father and her husband, so that was her parting statement to us.”

The woman ultimately passed away at 5 p.m. Tuesday, family members said.

Gudjenova joined with her other daughter, Brianne Christianson, to remember the mother and her daughter.

“She absolutely loved her children,” Christianson said. “My sister was my best friend. She was the only sibling that I had.”

Gudjenova said Brandilee was an “outgoing, very talkative, very vivacious girl.”

“She’s loved books all of her life and was happy to get her master’s degree so she could go and be a librarian,” Gudjenova said. “(She) loved people and had a lot to give to this world.”

Gudjenova said Sierra was artistic and very happy.

“(She was) always positive, a little helper to her brother and friends to everyone,” Gudjenova said. “(She was) a priceless little girl.”

Gudjenova said she hoped police and prosecutors would take the case seriously and that there would be consequences for what happened.

“Justice must happen here for them to kill two people in that kind of a reckless manner,” Gudjenova said.

According to court documents, two of the four men inside the other car told police they all had been drinking prior to the crash.

Nobody had been arrested as of Wednesday.

A spokesman for Salt Lake City Police Department, which took over the investigation because of a potential conflict of interest, said the department was still awaiting test results from the crash that would help to confirm who was behind the wheel at the time.

As detectives continued to investigate, family members said they hoped other families would make the most of the time they had together.

“They need to be more diligent in staying close to their families,” Gudjenova said. “That’s what I regret is not having more family time with Brandilee and Sierra.”

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