San Diego

Mother Celebrates Organ Donor Daughter 7 Years After Death

A North County mother honored her deceased daughter in a very special way Friday.

Ashley Garcia, 23, was a passenger in a car on Escondido’s Calavo Road – of which a half-mile stretch earned the dubious nickname “Roller Coaster Road” for its exaggerated undulations – when it catapulted off the roadway and landed upside down in a swimming pool.

Garcia died days later in the hospital. Her mother, Kara Laxon, has been sharing an emotional and important message ever since, while also fighting to make sure no one else is lost on the dangerous backstreet.

Laxon spoke of elation and joy Friday as she pinned a symbolic butterfly on the wall at Lifesharing, a group dedicated to organ donor awareness. She says the fact that her daughter’s heart, kidneys and other organs helped give new life to four other people.

“I can tell you as you as a donor mom, that it's the only thing that keeps me going. It really is. Knowing that she made a difference, knowing that she gave the gift and she still just continues on,” Laxon said.

But when NBC 7 first heard from Laxon in 2012, she was rightfully upset. Since then she’s made it her mission to do something about the dangerous road.

“Seeing this road, I can visualize her car. I can visualize her in that pool,” Laxon said. “It's just heart wrenching.”

Laxon’s fight has led to the installation of speedbumps along the road and increased signage, but she still thinks more changes are necessary.

“It needs to be flattened out. It needs to have the thrill taken out of it, so that nobody has to stand here and re-live the horror that I do,” she said.

But it would be terribly difficult, if not impossible to deal with the heartache the road represents if it weren’t for the one thing that that gives Laxon peace of mind.

“Joy. I'm so proud, so proud, so proud of what she did. And giving the gift to others and giving them a second chance at life,” she said.

Laxon wears a necklace with a heart pendant made of glass that has her daughter’s ashes mixed inside. She also has a ring that says “I love you.”

Laxon said she’s chosen not to meet the recipients of her daughter’s organs because “I just want to know that she's made a difference and they value the gift that they were given.”

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