Mother who lost daughter in 86-car pileup applauds new snow squall warnings

Mother supports new warning for snow squalls

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Starting this week the National Weather Service is adding snow squall warnings to its list of winter weather alerts. It’s a move a South Lebanon mother is applauding after losing her 12-year-old daughter in a pileup crash nearly five years ago on Interstate 275 near Colerain Township.

“I lost my only daughter that I prayed for all my life,” said Jill Reagan.

It has been a difficult couple years for Reagan and her family. She has been able to get through the hard times clinging to the good memories of her daughter Sammy who would have turned 18 years old Wednesday.

"I'm so thankful for the 12 years we had with her. She was so phenomenal," said Reagan.

The crash happened in January of 2013. They were heading to Perfect North, when a sudden snow squall caused two semi-trucks to jack-knife, leading to a pileup involving 86 cars.

“It was like that,” Reagan said while snapping her finger. “That’s how fast it happened. I mean it came out of nowhere.”

Starting this week the National Weather Service is adding snow squall warnings to its list of winter weather alerts.
Starting this week the National Weather Service is adding snow squall warnings to its list of winter weather alerts. (WXIX)

Reagan and her daughter were traveling in separate cars and drove in different directions to get around the semi-trucks.

“The girls got out of the car because everyone was fleeing from their cars trying to get over to the other side of the road," Reagan said.

She said her daughter was crossing the wire barrier on the side of the highway when the wire snapped -- it struck her in the head and tossed her in the air.

"I saw her unconscious and people were working on her. She had a broken leg that we could see broken in two spots and yeah we held out hope," said Reagan.

Sammy died in the hospital. Reagan remembers the day often and believes things may have played out differently for her family if they had a warning about the snow squall. On Monday the National Weather Service announced they would begin sending snow squall warnings. Ashley Novac who is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service showed FOX19 the radars, which she says will help them spot the road hazards days in advance.

"We really are working to have things in place to make sure that we can mitigate these impacts," said Novak.

Reagan says if she would have gotten a warning about the snow squall she most likely would have stayed at home that day avoiding that tragic accident.

"It's going to save lives definitely going to save lives and that's what we want. We want Sammy's legacy to mean something," said Reagan.

As we start heading into severe winter weather, the National Weather Service is reminding drivers that if they come across a snow squall, not to stop, but instead slow down and pull over into a safe spot.

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