Remembering Sammy Reagan, a look back at the 86-car pileup on I-275

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

SOUTH LEBANON, OH (FOX19) - It has been one year since the massive 86-car pileup on Interstate I-275 which claimed the life of 12-year-old Sammy Reagan.

Sammy was a sixth grader at Columbia Elementary.

The accident happened on January 21, 2012 on I-275 near Colerain Avenue. The crash was caused by conditions very similar to today. Sudden snow bursts in the area caused reduced visibility and icy road conditions between 11:30 a.m. and noon.

Some bystanders tried to save Sammy's life, including Aaron Foster, who missed the pileup by mere seconds.

"Everything was clear and then over the course of 30 seconds it was a white out, the roads were slick, people started sliding around," said Foster.

Foster was on his way to visit his parents in Ross when the pileup started. He initially stopped to assist two women who were stuck in their vehicle.

"As soon as it came it was gone," Foster said of the snow.

What the burst of snow left behind were 86 vehicles and a group of strangers trying to save a 12-year-old's life.

"Out of the corner of my eye I saw what I thought was a piece of a car that flew through the median, and I ran up, and it was a little girl."

Foster quickly covered her with his jacket, and waited for the assistance of an off-duty firefighter and a nurse.

"We turned her over, he breathed for her and I did compressions and the nurse got on the phone with 911 and we just waited for somebody to come."

Foster said it felt like 20 minutes until emergency crews could reach them. Just cars behind, Sammy Reagan's mother was also at the scene.

"I can't imagine going through that," Foster added. "As shocked as I was with the circumstances, I can't imagine being a parent and going through that."

Now the Kings community is grieving together, remembering the bright personality of a daughter, twin, and big sister.

"The first thing they talk about was her smile," said Valerie Brown, superintendent of Kings Local Schools. "And it was a contagious smile. She was somebody who everybody liked to be around."

"She was definitely a very vivacious little girl," added Julie Cabral. "And she touched other students in a very positive way."

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