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'So heartbroken' | Family remembers teen killed by drunk driver

Jaelyn Collins just celebrated her high school graduation and prom. Then, troopers said she was killed by a drunk driver.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn — Tami Oliver's phone was almost always ringing. Her daughter, 18-year-old Jaelyn Collins, loved keeping her mother in the loop.

"We Facetimed probably 10 to 20 times a day easily," she said. "We texted all day."

Jaelyn was her mama's best friend and a recent graduate of Union County High School. Tami said she was always laughing and smiling.

"She just wanted to live life and have fun," Tami said. "There's just no one in this world loved more than Jaelyn was by her family and her friends."

 Jaelyn was the kind of person who was always willing to stand up for others — especially her friends.

"She was a fighter for people that couldn't take it for themselves," Tami said. "She did not like bullies."

Credit: WBIR

But now, Tami and her family are standing up for Jaelyn and her legacy.

Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers said 41-year-old Roger Barnhart was driving south on Maynardville Pike, crossed over lanes and hit Jaelyn and her best friend head on.

"She was taken from us instantly. We had no choice in it," Tami said. "She had no control over it and it's just not fair."

Barnhart had 'watery and bloodshot eyes and slurred speech,' according to the report. He has been charged with three felonies for vehicular homicide driver intoxication, driving on roadways laned for traffic and texting while driving. 

Credit: Submitted
Tami Oliver said Jaelyn was always mama's girl.

Jaelyn's family is angry and devastated.

"No adult should be making decisions like that to get behind the wheel in that condition," Tami said. "Now we've lost my best friend, my little girl. And, her friend is still fighting for her life."

On Monday, Tami and her family will be in court to fight for justice at Barnhart's preliminary hearing. Tami is also getting involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). 

"I don't want Jaelyn to ever be forgotten," Tami said. "She was here. She had a life. She had people that loved her very much. I just want justice for her."

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