One night, at the trailer park where she lived, she met up with a 16-year-old boy who had taken the keys to his stepbrother's ATV. Jessica got on the back. They picked up another friend, a 14-year-old girl, who needed a ride home. When she got to her house, the girl asked if she could take the ATV for a spin. Jessica got on the back.
"People heard Jessica yelling at her to slow down," Cindy Adams said. "She lost control and ran up an embankment and hit a tree. She was thrown into the woods. Jessica stayed on the ATV. It turned over on her."
Neither girl wore a helmet.
The 16-year-old boy found the wrecked four-wheeler and ran to tell Jessica's mom. "When I got there, Jessica was lying spread-eagle on the bank. Her neck looked funny. An EMT was on the scene. I was shaking and yelling, 'Save her! Save her!' She had broken her neck. They were getting a heart rate, but they couldn't get an organized rhythm."
Her aorta split and filled her with blood, and her lung collapsed, her mother said. "They didn't know about the aorta until they took X-rays, or they might have saved her."
The driver survived a punctured lung and broken vertebrae.
For her burial, Jessica wore the jeans her mother gave her for her birthday; a necklace from her boyfriend; a dolphin ankle bracelet from Florida given to her by her mother's friend. "And I always made sure she had socks," Adams said tearfully, "so I put a pair of my socks on her with her favorite shoes."
After Jessica died, the trailer park manager installed a sign forbidding ATVs and dirt bikes in the trailer complex. Violators pay a $500 fine.
"All these kids around here are on ATVs," Adams said. "That's all my son wanted. He's 6 feet tall and weighs 170 pounds. I'd just gotten him one so he could ride with the other kids. I got one with a kick-start so Jessica couldn't ride it. She was mad because I didn't buy her one. I told her I didn't want her to get hurt."
Her son's ATV is for sale. In the meantime, he isn't permitted to ride it. Not that he wants to. "He lost his sister over an ATV."
All the kids have helmets, she said, but they don't always wear them. "I would always say, 'You boys make sure to wear your helmets.' But they would leave them on my deck and go."
She would ban ATVs for anyone under 18. "I know West Virginia is hilly and people need them, but they aren't for children," she said. "The weight of it alone can crush them."
To contact staff writer Sandy Wells, use e-mail or call 348-5173.