SPECIAL REPORT: Torn apart too soon

WINKLER COUNTY -- A Midland woman is in mourning after her fiance passed away from injuries sustained in a car accident, just 10 days after they became engaged.

The accident happened on October 28th in Winkler County, on Highway 302 near mile marker 232.

Chad Hicks moved to Midland less than a month and a half ago for a position with an oil company, when a proposition in Colorado threatened the industry.

His girlfriend, Caitlin Utley, moved with him. Then, weeks later, tragedy struck and their worlds went dark.

“I’m just in shock, ‘cause, we just moved here, you know. And we were trying to better our lives. And he was I mean the most selfless person on the planet,” she said.

And their two lives were set to become one. Chad Hicks and Caitlin Utley became engaged just 10 days before the accident that claimed his life.

“He stopped for fuel nine miles west of here, and texted me and said that he loved me. And that’s the last time that I heard from him,” she said.

Driving around a turn at dusk, his F350 and an 18-wheeler collided, launching his car hundreds of feet. Utley said 20 minutes went by before an onlooker called 911.

Hicks was airlifted to a Lubbock hospital, where he passed away after a seven hour surgery.

It is heartache that has permanently torn them apart, but also initially drew them together. The couple met around the time the father of Utley's children passed away.

“I had met Chad after my own tragedy, and he kind of brought me back to life. And I felt like he was put on this earth for me specifically for me,” she said.

Utley said Hicks was a light in her life, and in the lives of her two children.

“He wasn’t the step dad. From day one, they called him dad. And you know, we never asked them to. He said they just lit up his life,” she said.

Their love story doesn’t have a happy ending. But Utley hopes her fiancé’s story makes an impact on others.

“Please, if you come up on an accident, call 911, even if other people have called 911. Because Chad was there for 20 minutes and that could have potentially saved him,” she said.

And the things that are getting Utley through her tragic loss, are family, faith, memories and the few items her fiancé treasured most.

“As I’m walking over here, I found his hat. And right here, where they found Chad, I found his Bible. And it was opened to Proverbs,” she said.

Utley honored her fiancé by placing a cross at the accident site Thursday afternoon. The metal cross was welded from parts of his truck.

Tim Harris used his time and skill to make the special marker. The marker has a United States Navy Emblem, representing the sacrifice he made serving our country.

Utley is asking for anyone who saw the accident to come forward, and report that information to police.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Hicks’ medical expenses.

Utley also spoke about her thankfulness for the woman who reported the accident and comforted her fiancé.

“If it weren’t for the angel that showed up and comforted him until the helicopter arrived, you know, I didn’t want him to leave the world this way,” she said.

Chad Hicks' funeral will be on November 14th, at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado.