Washington County

Mom sits down with Channel 11 following young teen’s death in West Pike Run Township

WEST PIKE RUN TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Channel 11 sat down with the mother whose 13-year-old son was killed in a horrific car crash nearly one year ago in Washington County.

Police recently filed charges against the 19-year-old driver, Ruben Miller.

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Miller was behind the wheel when he lost control of his car, causing a crash that killed 13-year-old Jayden Anderson, per police.

Anderson and another 13-year-old, who survived, were both Miller’s passengers. The crash happened in April 2022 in West Pike Run Township.

Despite her heartache, Anderson’s mom, Heather Laidella, said that she forgives Miller. The 19-year-old had been a close friend to Anderson.

“Forgiveness really isn’t for the other person, the person that hurt you,” she said. “It’s for you. You can’t walk around with that much hatred on your heart every day. It will kill you. If anything comes out of Jayden’s death, I want the kids and the adults just to be a little more kinder to each other.”

Miller is facing numerous charges, including a homicide by vehicle felony.

While Laidella said that she believes there needs to be accountability, she wants to see the felony charge reduced. She also doesn’t want to see Miller serve prison time.

“My son, Jayden, worshipped the ground that Ruben walked on. He was his big brother. Jayden wanted Ruben to do good, he wanted him to go to school and have a life,” she said. “Jayden would not rest in peace knowing that Ruben was in jail.”

Laidella said that her son had a soft and kind heart. She described the 13-year-old as a “gentle giant” with a “heart of gold.”

In his memory, she has developed a scholarship fund. She hopes to collect enough to send a senior from his alma mater, Bethlehem-Center School District, to college. She’s hopeful that there could be surplus funds to help the school’s sports teams obtain new equipment.

As for the scholarship recipient, she said, “You must display and live your life like Jayden did, with respect, humility, sportsmanship, values, morals.” She added that the recipient must have at least a 3.0, like her son did.

Clothing items featuring Anderson’s number, “21,″ are being sold, with some proceeds going toward the scholarship fund. Items can be purchased here.

Laidella said that she is in the process of setting up the fund at a bank. Anyone interested in donating can reach out to her for more information at laidellaheather@icloud.com.

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