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Teen driver killed in crash days before her 20th birthday

Teen driver killed in crash days before her 20th birthday
Posted at 3:55 PM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 16:20:13-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- A mother is mourning the sudden death of her youngest daughter who was killed in a single-vehicle crash during strong storms in Hanover County last week.

As heavy rain moved across Hanover County, Susan Draper suddenly ran off East Patrick Henry Road near Cedon Road and slammed into a tree at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday.

The 19-year-old was driving home from her waitressing job at Applebees when she crashed, according to her mother, Paula Draper.

“When I came to the door and opened the door there were three officers standing here,” Paula recalled. “He said, ‘Are you Paula Draper?’ And I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Your daughter Susan was in an automobile accident.’’

Susan died on impact. Paula then fell to her knees in disbelief.

Just three days before Susan’s 20th birthday, Draper began planning her daughter’s memorial service instead of a birthday party.

“I want to have a celebration of life because that’s what Susan would’ve wanted,” Paula explained. “She would’ve not wanted something dreary and drawn out.”

Susan also told her family that she wanted to be cremated and her ashes spread at her favorite spots, like her grandparent’s home and the Outer Banks in North Carolina.

“Susan said whenever she passed away, she wanted someone to plant a tree in her honor. We’ve agreed to plant a weeping willow tree because that’s what she would’ve wanted,” Paula stated.

The young woman had recently saved up her earnings from the restaurant to purchase her new car just a month and a half before the crash. She then hoped to rent an apartment with her sister and attend Reynolds Community College.

“I take comfort in knowing the last thing I said to her was, 'I love you.' The last thing she said to me was, 'I love you,'” Draper stated. “As a parent, you lose a child and that’s the last thing you said to a child, That’s a huge comfort.”

Susan was an organ donor. Draper learned her daughter’s organs and tissues, including her eyes were donated to someone in need.

“Susan had the most beautiful eyes,” she said. “I would love to know someone else was able to see the world with her eyes and she was the reason they were able to see.”

A family friend has set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to help with the cost of an unexpected funeral.