Family Searches for Answers After Girl, Grandmother Killed in Monday Crash

David McWhirter and his family share their memories of their 8-year-old daughter, Ava, and her grandmother. They were killed in a head-on collision in Hockley county on Monday.
By: Meredith Hillgartner
mhillgartner@klbk13.tv

LUBBOCK,TX- The family of Patricia Mendez, 62, and her granddaughter, Ava Lucia McWhirter, 8, grieved as they made funeral arrangements Tuesday.  Mendez and Ava lost their lives Monday in a crash along Highway 84 near Anton. 

The family said Mendez was going to pick up her mother in Lubbock from dialysis, and Ava wanted to come along so she could push her great grandmother’s wheelchair.

DPS on Monday said an SUV driven by Jeffrey Howard, 51, of Wolfforth hit Mendez’ passenger car head-on.  People had been calling 9-1-1 for roughly 20 minutes before the crash saying Howard was driving on the wrong side of the road.  A Shallowater officer was rushing toward Howard’s SUV but could not catch up in time before the crash.

“I know, I know that my mom did everything she could because that is her,” Alejandra McWhirter said.
 
Alejandra and her husband, David McWhirter, hugged tight as they made funeral arrangements for Ava. Alejandra was also making funeral arrangements for her mother.  She has been asking investigators to tell her why this happened.  What Jeffrey Howard was thinking when he hit her family.

“For a selfish act of what that driver did,” David McWhirter said. “I mean, it has affected so many people.”

Ava's family and school partnered together to start a scholarship fund and a fund for funeral expenses.  Donations can be made at Citizens State Bank in Anton and Wells Fargo locations in Lubbock, under McWhirter-Mendez fund.
 
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