Fatal accident involved best friends | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Fatal accident involved best friends

An accident Monday that claimed the life of a Dayton girl became even more tragic Tuesday when word spread that the vehicle that rear-ended Rachel French was driven by her best friend.

Martin Salvo said his daughter Joni, 19, was following French to drop off French’s car at an automotive repair shop when Joni choked on a drink and lost consciousness.

Her Ford Ranger plowed into the rear of French’s Chevy Cavalier. French, 19, was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. The driver of another truck involved in the accident, at Highway 50 East and Airport Road, was not injured, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.

Martin Salvo said the last thing Joni remembers is choking.

“She was completely unaware that she ever hit anything,” he said Tuesday from the hospital. “Yesterday, prior to going into surgery, she couldn’t figure out why Rachel hadn’t been in contact with her. She didn’t know what she hit. She didn’t know Rachel was gone.”

On Tuesday morning, Joni’s family told her the news.

“She can’t believe it. Even after we explained it to her today she keeps asking, ‘Are you sure, dad? Are you sure?’ She still expects Rachel to come through the door.” he said. “Rachel was her best friend. They hung out day and night. They had plans on moving in together. They were yin and yang.”

Joni underwent two surgeries to reattach a cheek muscle that had been torn from the bone during the accident. She also suffered a broken nose and lacerations to her lower lip and forehead.

Joni’s mother Simone Bartell said they will get their daughter therapy to deal with the loss.

“She feels like she’s to blame, but she isn’t. She choked and she blacked out,” Bartell said.

Martin Salvo said Joni often came by with Rachel in tow.

“We enjoyed her company, she was just a kick. The two of them together, it was just great,” he said. “They had plans for their future. Rachel was into doing rap music and evidently she was very good at it. Joni was very supportive of Rachel, encouraging her to go after her dreams. They were sisters.”

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