SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) --A local softball star's sudden and tragic death left a community reeling in shock, and the athlete's family is determined to leave a lifesaving legacy by hoping to make changes on one dangerous road.
Distracted driving kills over 16,000 teenagers every year. Elena Kramer's cellphone was in her glove box one January morning as she was driving down Bouquet Canyon Road, but she was killed after losing control of her car, causing her to hit an oak tree.
Taelor Kramer, 21, can't remember a time when she and her younger sister, Elena, weren't on the diamond.
"Imagining not seeing Elena for the rest of my life seems impossible," said Taelor.
Elena hit 12 home-runs in her last eight fall-ball games as a freshman at Glendale Community College. Coach Sal Pizzo kept her spot on the roster this spring, and the girls hung a banner and a framed jersey at every game.
"I've been coaching this game for probably eight or nine years, and Elena, by far, was the brightest person I've coached -- as far as personality and just morals, and just an all-around perfect person," said assistant coach Joe Green.
The Kramer family was stunned to hear a 16-year-old passenger died just months before Elena's death. That car also hit an oak tree just 15 yards away.
In the four short months since her daughter's passing, Cassandra Parks immediately stepped into city politics, trying to make changes to Bouquet Canyon.
"...The first thing I heard out of the police officer's mouth was, 'If a guardrail was in place, it would have saved Elena's life,'" Parks said.
A public hearing this week brought hundreds of supporters to the Antelope Valley in an effort to convince authorities from multiple agencies that change is long overdue.
In the four months since Elena's accident, 162 speeding citations have been issued on Bouquet Canyon.
"We are adopting a board letter that's going to lower the speed limit on Bouquet Road from 55 to 45 mph," said Edel Vizcarra, a Planning and Public Works deputy.
Funding for guardrails has since been approved, but the permit process has to go through the forest service -- a government agency -- and could take anywhere from a year to 18 months, officials said.
Bouquet Canyon Road, which connects the Santa Clarita Valley with the Antelope Valley, was never intended as a commuter road, but it saves drivers in Palmdale or Quartz Hill about 20 minutes. But what's 20 minutes saved if a life is lost?
Elena's older sister has been delivering flowers to the scene of the accident almost weekly. For the first time on Wednesday, her mom came with her.
"It's a tragedy. It shouldn't happen," cried Parks. "We don't know what happened and it doesn't matter, it just matters that I lost a great kid and Taelor lost a sister."