Albuquerque woman and best friend killed in I-40 crash near Arizona-New Mexico border
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A 22-year-old woman and her best friend were tragically killed in a car crash.
On April 2, Albuquerque native Kelli Ingle and 21-year-old Chelsea Valladares were driving to Albuquerque to see Ingle’s family. An Arizona Department Of Public Safety spokesperson says about an hour before midnight, their car hit a guardrail while driving east on I-40 near the Arizona and New Mexico border.
The car came to a stop in the middle of the road when it was hit by a semi-truck. The impact killed Valladares and Ingle was seriously hurt. She was airlifted to a Gallup hospital where she died.
"She is so young,” says Matthew Ingle, Kelli’s brother. “It’s such a obviously terrible nightmare that my family is living through."
Matthew said his younger sister had made that drive several times over the years. She and Valladares were seniors at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix and would travel frequently. He was working a graveyard shift that night when he learned what happened.
"I just, I just collapsed,” Matthew said. “I knew exactly what was happening and I just couldn’t believe it. I was speechless.”
Where ever Kelli went, Matthew said a bright light would follow.
"In every group of people she’s in, she’s the brightest person in the room," he said.
Kelli performed in several musicals in Albuquerque. While singing was a passion for her, more than anything she wanted to help people.
"Her selflessness, she is just working for everyone else," Matthew said.
Kelli recently got back from a mission trip in the Dominican Republic. Kelli and Chelsea were set to graduate this April. Kelli’s goal was to be a nurse.
"Her heart was for the medical field,” Matthew said. “She wanted to help others always."
Her brother remembers all the family vacations he, his sister, and their two parents would take, saying Kelli had a contagious laugh that could cheer up anyone.
"One thing she would want me to say about her is the most important thing about her was her relationship with Jesus," Matthew said.
The last conversation he had with her, a Facetime call, was a week before the crash.
"So I got to see her when I was talking to her and I just remember saying love you, see you this weekend,” Matthew said. “I can still see that in my head so I’m really glad I made that call."
Despite this tragedy, the Ingle family have found some comfort in this tragedy, Kelli is an organ donor. Although she is gone, she’s accomplishing her goal of helping others.
"She is going to save a lot of lives and that’s what’s important," Matthew said.
If you wish to donate to Kelli or Chelsea’s GoFundMe pages, click the links below: