Our hearts and prayers go out to the Stinchcomb family.
Taylor Stinchcomb’s parents offered her a choice on her 13th birthday. They would lease a horse for her to ride or allow her to bring home a dog.
She went with the dog.
Taylor’s family said she adopted a 4-year-old Doberman Pinscher from an animal shelter and named him Romulus. The two were inseparable; neighbors saw them walking through their Gurnee, Illinois subdivision practically everyday, a huge, contented smile on Taylor’s face.
After two happy years however, Romulus became ill with cancer and while the family was pursuing advanced medical treatment for the dog, they discussed the possibility of euthanasia. Taylor found that idea hard to take.
Taylor, loyal to her core, was shattered. So Tuesday morning, authorities said she did something desperate: she loaded Romulus into her parents’ minivan without permission and fled the house.
Taylor then picked up a friend, also 15, who was behind the wheel when the van flew off a rural Lake County Illinois road and struck several trees and a utility pole. Taylor was killed in the crash, while the driver suffered minor injuries. Romulus did not survive.
“He was with her till the end, literally,” family friend Casey Fallos said.
That detail made the tragedy all the more difficult to bear, some said. They remembered Taylor as a good student, dedicated athlete and enthusiastic community volunteer who was so smitten with creatures great and small that she wanted to become an “animal cop.”
“She loved animals, and she was very, very spirited,” said her sister Mallorie Holler, 26. “She loved her dog more than anything.”
Josh Petersen, a youth pastor at Immanuel Church in Gurnee, discovered how much Taylor adored her dog after telling a story one night about being chased by a Doberman.
“She got in my face afterward and talked about how great (Dobermans) are, how they get a bad rap for being mean,” he said. “There was no doubt about her total affection for her dog.”
Now Taylor and her beloved Romulus will be together forever.