Kaillie Plante, 14, and Nicholas Minard, 15, had been dating for more than a year when they were killed together in a car crash on their way home from a shopping trip for the coming school year.
Their family and friends describe them both as full of laughter and love, for each other and those around them.
The two died after the vehicle they were traveling in was struck by a semitruck filled with lumber on State Route 87 north of Mesa.
‘It still doesn’t feel real’
Kaillie’s parents, Tres and Danielle Plante, said she was always smiling and making people laugh.
“She just made everybody around her have a good time,” Tres Plante said. “Wherever it was, whatever it was, they always felt welcome.”
He also conveyed a message from Kaillie’s brother, Trenton, who wanted to remind all siblings to love one another as much as possible while they still have the chance.
Kaillie and Nicholas had been dating for a year and one month, according to Danielle Plante, who described them as the perfect couple, always goofing off and making people laugh together.
Danielle Plante was driving the car when it was hit. She said all she remembers is the truck coming at her, getting hit at least twice and losing consciousness for a short time.
She found out about Kaillie at the hospital.
“It didn’t feel real,” Tres Plante said. “It still doesn’t feel real.”
‘We’re all walking around aimlessly’
Adrienne Minard, Nicholas’ mother, said he was family-oriented and caring. She wants people to remember how much love he had to give.
“Him and Kaillie were the cutest couple for being so young,” she said. “I think they taught their friends the true meaning of friendship and love.”
Minard said the Plantes’ son called and told her about the crash and Nicholas’ death.
“I could hear him saying he didn’t make it,” she said. “From there, it’s a blur.”
She wants everyone to know how much Kaillie and Nicholas will be missed. Nicholas also had an older brother and older sister.
She said there are no words to describe how they are all feeling.
“We’re all walking around aimlessly. It’s surreal,” she said.
‘I just lost two of my best friends’
Sandra Orris, 14, said she found out about the crash through friends on Snapchat and a call from Nicholas’ cousin.
“I dropped to the floor and started bawling my eyes out,” she said. “I didn’t want to believe what really happened.”
According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Nicholas died at the scene and Kaillie died later at the hospital.
“I just lost two of my best friends and how am I supposed to deal with this?” Sandra said. “I’ve never lost a friend before.”
Sandra said Kaillie and her family moved to Pine a few months ago after living in Glendale. But two years prior to the move, Sandra said, she met Kaillie through a boy Sandra had been dating and who had previously dated Kaillie.
“Actually it was pretty funny,” Sandra said. “I started dating her ex-boyfriend and she texted me one day asking if I was all right because I was in the hospital for stomach problems.”
The two started talking from there, she said, and began hanging out shortly after.
Sandra has many fond memories of her time spent with Kaillie, including pouring soap on the trampoline and jumping on the slippery surface together, all the sleepovers and the silliness, like when they threw a fake wedding for each other while shopping.
She described Kaillie as “everything good about life.”
“She was shy at first but even her being shy, she was the nicest girl you could ever meet,” she said. “Once you got to know her, she was pretty hilarious and sweet, caring, loving.”
Sandra also said Nicholas, or Nick, was one of her closest friends as well and that they had known each other for almost three years.
They attended Payson High School together and were heading into their sophomore year.
She described Nick as a daredevil, always breaking something or trying tricks he knew he couldn’t do. Despite his craziness, she said she considered him family.
She remembered a story where Nick was especially nice and caring.
“We were on a mountain and pushing rocks off of it, and the rock hit my fingers and took off my fingernail. I was bleeding a lot. And he took off his jacket and started wrapping it around my fingers and caught me as I started to faint.”
GoFundMe and Food Tidings accounts have been set up to help the families cover funeral and food expenses.
Food Tidings allows others to either donate money or order food online to be prepared and delivered to the family. People can also schedule to prepare a meal and drop it off themselves.
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