About 19 years ago, the Cogswell family got a special delivery.
Eight-month-old baby Jasmine Elizabeth needed special care and love after treatment for malnourishment at a Portland hospital. When social workers handed her into the waiting arms of foster mom Shelley Cogswell, they hoped this fourth home in Jasmine’s short life would work out.
“She was, literally, a special delivery,” Shelley Cogswell said. “We got a call saying they had a very sick little baby coming from Portland Children’s and would we like to place her in our home.”
The Cogswells eventually adopted Jasmine, who they say became a funny, generous and loving girl.
Jasmine’s life wasn’t always easy. She dealt with the effects of being born addicted to methamphetamine and hereditary mental illness. Despite her struggles, her family says she was a light in their lives.
On Monday, Jasmine and her boyfriend, Chance Wilbur, along with his friend Anthony Lautermilch, were killed when their car crossed the center line on U.S. Highway 395 near Loon Lake and collided with a fire truck.
At the Cogswell family’s Hillyard home Wednesday afternoon, aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins gathered to support each other.
“Part of me still thinks she’s just going to come up the steps and knock and say there’s a mistake, it’s still me, I’m OK,” Todd Cogswell, Jasmine’s father, said through tears. “But I know that she’s at the morgue, and it’s just so hard.”
The Cogswell family said Jasmine had come a long way since she was a shy baby in foster care.
After nursing her back to health, they fell in love with her and officially added her to the family when her mother couldn’t retain her parental rights.
Jasmine became best friends with her sister, Spencer Cogswell, who had been adopted just a few years earlier.
“They were each other’s best friends until they weren’t, and then they were arguing with each other until they’re back to being best friends,” Todd Cogswell said.
When the girls were little, they loved reading. First it was Bible stories, then a song, then they each had to have their favorite book read to them over and over and over.
Jasmine’s favorite was “The Foot Book,” by Dr. Seuss, which she picked out at a yard sale.
“We had to put a rule on that one when we went to bed at night,” Todd Cogswell said with a chuckle. “Only three times with ‘The Foot Book.’ ”
The family spent most of Jasmine’s childhood farming in Athena, Oregon, where Jasmine developed her love for animals. Once, they found a wet kitten on the side of the road. With a kitten already at home, Jasmine’s parents said it would be best they gave the cat to a friend, but a few days later, they noticed their own kitten had been eating more food than usual.
It didn’t take long to figure out that Jasmine had hidden the kitten she named Bella in her parent’s shed. Jasmine said she just couldn’t trust anyone else to take care of the cat the way she could. With that explanation, Shelley and Todd couldn’t help but give in, they said.
In 2013, the family moved to Spokane, where Jasmine attended Garry Middle School and then Rogers High School. Once in high school, Jasmine began to struggle with drug addiction and dropped out, her family said.
“Honestly, by the time she was in high school, the demons that she had, had caught up with her,” Todd Cogswell said.
“She was capable, but … she tried but it didn’t happen,” he said of his daughter finishing high school.
She had multiple run-ins with police as a teen.
“They were crimes most done like an addict-seeking-a-fix-type things,” Todd Cogswell said. “But in the end, you could see God working on her heart.”
The Cogswell family, who are members of a local Christian church, said their faith and the knowledge that their daughter is in heaven is a comfort.
Even with her struggles, Jasmine was a generous and loving person, her family said. People who needed help seemed drawn to her, said Kim Patzkowski, her aunt. Jasmine would always let them stay over at her parents’ house or help them out of whatever jam they were in, Patzkowski said.
Once, while still in school, her cousin Drew Patzkowski was being picked on. She stepped in and read the bullies the riot act, a fact that made Drew proud, he said.
Most recently, Jasmine had been living in Rice, Washington, with her boyfriend, Wilbur, and his family, her parents said.
On Monday, the Cogswells had just sat down to dinner when Spencer saw a photo of a car crash on her phone.
“We were sitting here getting ready to eat our dinner and she just got it, you know, turned on her phone,” Shelley Cogswell said. “And the first thing that popped up was this horrible picture on (Facebook).”
Minutes later, they heard through friends that it was Jasmine and her boyfriend in the car, Shelley Cogswell said. Then her boyfriend’s father called. He was crying and confirmed the rumors.
“For the longest time, we said, ‘It’s not her,’ ” Shelley Cogswell said, through sobs.
“I even tried to call her phone,” Todd Cogswell said. “It rang, but nobody answered.”
The 2003 Mitsubishi Galant that the trio were riding in crossed the center line and slammed into an oncoming fire truck with its lights and sirens activated, and burst into flames upon impact, according to the driver of the fire truck.
With so much trauma to the bodies, an official identification has yet to be made by the Stevens County coroner. But the Cogswells said the tattoos on one of the bodies match their daughter’s. A friend who had just been dropped off by Wilbur confirmed the direction in which the three teens were traveling, the Cogswells said.
“The only solace I can take is that I know that she was never, ever alone,” Shelley Cogswell said. “I believed the angels were there with her.”
The Cogswells were comforted to learn that the chaplain who responded to the scene gathered everyone around the car to pray. Even knowing the coroner was there to remove her daughter, making sure she was never alone, was a relief for Shelley Cogswell.
The Washington State Patrol is investigating the collision.
One item was salvaged from the crash: a black model train. When the Cogswells were given it by Wilbur’s family, they knew exactly why it was there.
A few weeks ago, Jasmine had been at a yard sale and not so subtly asked her dad, who collects model trains, if he liked a black one with red wheels. The gift was just one of many small things Jasmine did to show her family she loved them, the Cogswells said.
“That was my Father’s Day present early,” Todd Cogswell said, looking at the engine and sobbing. “That’s all that survived.”
From sending a uniquely Jasmine card to her grandma last Mother’s Day to texting her father to say she was praying for him during his health struggles, Jasmine made sure those around her knew they were loved.
In fact, the last thing she said to her mother, who she talked to a couple of hours before the crash, was, “I love you.”
Similarly, she had texted her sister to say she loved her earlier in the day. And the afternoon of the crash, while Todd Cogswell was sending off the students in the special education department he works with at North Central High School, he got a text saying, “I love you” from Jasmine. If he had known it would be the last time he would talk to his daughter, Todd Cogswell said he would have written her a whole book.
“I mean, you don’t know. You just say ‘I love you, be safe, see you later,’ ” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to be this much later, not this lifetime later.”
The Cogswell family plans to place three crosses with hearts surrounding them at the scene of the crash. On Jasmine’s, they’ll write Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Surrounding the verse, the family will write words that remind them of Jasmine.
A memorial service for Jasmine is planned for the afternoon of June 19 at Southside Christian Church. A time has not been set. Updates can be found on the family’s GoFundMe to raise money for funeral costs.
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