‘Heaven’s smiling angel’: Truman High cheerleaders remember teammate killed in I-70 crash

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Original Post

The Truman High School varsity cheer team says they’ll never be the same.

For Truman High School this season’s first Friday night lights will be missing a lot of spirit. One of their cheerleaders was killed early Sunday in a crash on I-70.

“She never got to go to a school dance. She never got the high school experience,” teammate Taylor Herrick said. “She never even got to go to her first football game.”

For 14-year-old Hailey Jeffries, cheerleading was always her passion. Before high school, she cheered for Independence’s Pop Warner Cheer before joining Truman’s varsity team.

“Everything. Everything in the world,” Herrick said. “I remember the day she passed away her mom texted the chat about how much she wanted to be on the team and how much it meant to her.”

Hailey died Sunday morning when KCPD said a car she was riding in on westbound I-70 near Stadium Drive went off the road just after midnight and flipped multiple times. Hailey was thrown from the car. Three others in that car were injured.

Photo courtesy Russell Walker Photography

Her teammates said she was a quiet girl. But when she did talk, she always made them laugh.

“We got her out of her shell a little bit, and we asked her what kind of boys she liked,” teammate Lileeana Venegas said. “She was so funny. She was just like bright. We just were happy when she was around.”

The girls made bracelets to remember Hailey and hair bows with the hashtag #HSA, for Heaven’s Smiling Angel. They said they wish Hailey wasn’t in heaven, but on the sidelines with them.

They don’t know why she was in the car and believe the crash is more than what it seems.

“It doesn’t seem like the Hailey we know. It just shined a light on it’s so important that your parents know where you are at all times because at any second — this girl just lost her life at the age of 14,” Herrick said.

“I just wish she could be here with us. I wish we didn’t have to go through this,” Venegas said. “She would still be a part of our team, and we could just be living our normal lives.”

Services for Hailey will be held Saturday morning. A Gofundme was set up to assist the family with unexpected funeral costs.

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