Angela and Nate White don’t seek revenge for the death of their son, Taylor.
They do seek justice, and after 13 months of waiting, they are exhausted and disheartened by what they see as inaction by the Phoenix Police Department.
On the night of April 8, 2018, Taylor was crossing a street on the edge of Grand Canyon University campus. He was in the crosswalk, with a green light, when a driver in a white SUV ran a red light and killed him instantly in a hit-and-run.
Taylor was 21, a Pine Creek High graduate and the oldest of Angela’s and Nate’s four children. He was out for a run to lose weight so he could better fit into a tux. He was to marry Sarah Tedeschi on April 28, 2018.
No arrest has been made. The burned-out SUV that killed Taylor was found soon after his death. The owner of the car said it had been stolen. Charges were recommended against a suspect, said Phoenix police spokesman Vince Lewis, but the county attorney did not file the charges.
Angela and Nate sit side by side on the family couch. They have been careful not to become obsessed with Taylor’s death. They want to remain free to celebrate life with their surviving children; Jordan 20, Brittney, 18, and Ian, 16.
They laugh often during an hourlong conversation, talking of the family’s Christmas trip to Disneyland and Jordan’s July wedding and Brittney’s and Ian’s athletic highlights at Pine Creek.
But they return, too, to a haunting slice of their life. Why haven’t Phoenix police officers been more aggressive in pursuing leads and questioning suspects?
Why do they feel forgotten?
“We’ve never received communication from them,” Nate says. “It’s always been us reaching out.”
Lewis understands the family’s frustration. Suspects contacted about the case, he says, “gave up little information and even that was difficult to confirm.”
“Clearly our hearts go out to them,” Lewis says of the Whites. “This family has lost a promising member of their family. Taylor seemed to have a lot going for him.”
But, Lewis says, the case is complicated, partially because of the burned-out condition of the car that hit Taylor.
“We have to do what is lawful,” Lewis says. “We can’t just act on impulse and emotions.”
Phoenix police, he says, require more evidence. The department has made a public plea for assistance, and Lewis is optimistic justice eventually will be done.
“Whoever was behind the wheel won’t be silent for the rest of their life,” Lewis says.
The department can be sure of this: Angela and Nate will keep pushing.
“We have forgiven,” Angela says, “which is difficult and forgiveness is an ongoing process, but we’re not going to hold to vengeance. We’re not going to hold to revenge or bitterness because that will ruin you. That will prevent us from being the parents we need to be. That will prevent us from having the marriage we know we have and know we can have. That will prevent us from influencing others the way we know God has called us to influence.”
“But forgiveness does not negate justice, and when you have a society that continues to let go of justice, where people are no longer held accountable for their actions, that’s when society falls apart. We’re witnessing that.
“Who is going to stand up and demand for this? Who is going to stand up and say no! If we’re going to continue to not hold people accountable, where are we going to be as a people? We’re seeing that in Phoenix.
“What would that (an arrest and conviction) do for our family? Yes, there would be closure involved in that, but whoever that driver is, that driver is on the streets right now and there is no accountability.
“And they probably think they have gotten away with this.”
Taylor, Angela says, was larger than life. He started on the offensive line for Pine Creek’s 2014 state championship football team. He came achingly close to winning a Colorado wrestling title, finishing as runner-up his senior year. He led hiking expeditions up fourteeners. He was a devoted Christian.
He lives in this home. He always will. And his presence fuels his parents’ quest for justice.
“It has now been over a year,” Angela says. “For the honor of our son and our family and the injustice that’s been committed here, investigate something, take a path and go with it.”