SALT LAKE CITY — Jamie Lynn Crandall, Miss Utah USA 2011, has as her platform "Hang up, Save a Life Before you Drive." She chose this after her friend was killed by a teen who was texting while driving.
In 2007 Crandall’s friend, Lauren Mulkey, 17, was killed instantly when a teen driver ran a red light and broadsided the driver’s side of Mulkey’s car.
"We had been celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day, but it was 2 a.m. in the morning on March 18, four years ago," said Crandall, who graduated from East High School. "She had just taken me home when the accident happened. I still have her green sweater I had been wearing that night. It was hard to get the phone call in the morning after I had just been with her hours before. It’s really sad because she was an only child, gorgeous, smart and a talented athlete. A group of friends have stayed close to her mother, Linda Mulkey."
Following her daughter’s death, Linda Mulkey began the Hang up, Save a Life Before You Drive campaign by putting the saying on billboards, bumper stickers and T-shirts to remind people not to text or talk on the phone while driving. "I started helping her even before the pageant," said Crandall, whose family belongs to Saint Ambrose Parish. "We have been to various high schools and various churches to talk to teens about the dangers of distracted driving,.
"The sale of the T-shirts and bumper stickers go toward a scholarship in Lauren’s name at Westminster College," said Barbara Crandall, Jamie’s mother, who also promotes the campaign at schools. "Lauren graduated early from high school, when she was 17, and was attending Westminster."
"In the classrooms I visit, students are afraid to say they text while driving," said Crandall. "I tell them if they do, their lives could change forever in a split second."
Winning the pageant has changed Crandall’s life. She ran for Miss Utah USA in 2008 and was the first runner up. Crandall, now 23, has been modeling since she was 14, and said it was only natural that she enter the pageant. "I found out about the pageant after my mother received an e-mail and entered me," she said. "She and my father, Peter, both gave me encouragement. But I want others to know you don’t have to have experience to enter the pageant.
"Being first runner up gave me so much confidence," she said. "I look back now and realize I wasn’t ready to win in 2008. It was too soon after the accident. I couldn’t talk about it without getting emotional. I went into the pageant blindly and without expectations. But now something good has come out of the accident."
Winning the pageant has motivated Crandall and kept her busy raising funds for the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, and with her platform and general appearances.
"It has helped her come out of her shell," said Barbara Crandall. "She was reserved and shy before."
"I’ve learned not to be the quiet one in the corner and I have become pro-active," said Crandall. "I now have my sights on the Miss USA pageant, which will be held June 19 in Las Vegas, Nev. Miss Utah has not won the Miss USA title since 1960."
Crandall was crowned Miss Utah USA Oct. 23, 2010 and said giving up her crown will be emotional. "It will be sad to give up my crown because this has been the happiest time of my life," she said.