MASON, Ohio - Within hours of the massive pileup on I-275, hundreds of parishioners from Rivers Crossing Community Church gathered to honor the life of 12-year-old Sammy Reagan.
The tears of more than 300 people mixed with smiles and laughter during a prayer service at the church where Sammy and her family attended, said Travis Soles, pastor of students at Rivers Crossing.
"The mood was obviously of grieving, followed by laughing and remembering the good times of Sammy," Soles said.
Sammy was the sole fatality in the 86-vehicle crash caused by sudden, blinding white-out conditions on the highway between Colerain Avenue and Hamilton Avenue on Monday. Sammy's family was heading to Perfect North Slopes in two separate cars for a day of fun during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday when tragedy struck.
A cable median barrier struck Sammy after she exited a damaged vehicle and was standing in the median, according to police. The Butler County coroner's office officially ruled the cause of death as an accidental head injury.
On Tuesday, Kings Local Schools Superintendent Valerie Browning visited the Columbia Elementary School where Sammy was a sixth-grader.
"It's really a sad day for the whole Kings community," Browing said. "It's a very close knit community here in Kings and we're all very sad at the loss of one of our beautiful students."
Over the course of the day at Columbia students erected an impromptu memorial to their classmate.
"I know this news makes all of us very sad and that is OK," said Columbia Elementary Principal Shelley Detmer-Bogaert, during an early-morning school announcement. "Sammy was a wonderful young lady and we will miss her."
The school planned to have counselors on hand to help Sammy's classmates deal with their grief.
Those who knew Sammy described her as a happy, vivacious girl who always had a smile on her face. She loved to play soccer and ski, and was always asking her classmates to take good care of each other and be kinder than necessary.
Sammy is survived by her mother and father, Jill and Bill Reagan, and two brothers.
Reporter Tom McKee contributed to this report