15-year-old Taylor Mae Stinchcomb, of suburban Gurnee, Illinois, was distraught. Her parents were considering putting the family dog down, as the pet was suffering from cancer.
Apparently to save the animal from euthanasia, she put it in her family's 2003 Dodge Minivan, with another 15-year-old friend, and drove away without her parents' permission. After some time, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, she was too upset to drive, so she let her friend take the wheel and sat in the passenger seat.
Shortly thereafter, the teen friend lost control of the car, striking several trees and a utility pole in an accident that killed both Stinchcomb and her dog.
The car apparently flipped, according to CBS Chicago, trapping young Taylor Mae in the passenger's seat until Grayslake firefighters extricated her. She was breathing and talking at the scene, but died later of internal injuries.
"This case is absolutely heartbreaking," said Undersheriff Charles Fagan to the suburban Daily Herald. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of both girls involved in this incident."
The friend who was driving the car was treated by paramedics on the scene and did not require hospitalization.
Neither of the girls was old enough to hold a driver's license in Illinois.