PLATTSBURGH — When Kelly Donah thinks of her daughter, Samantha, she remembers the teen’s laughter, her beautiful smile and her ability to light up a room.
And today, on the one-year anniversary of the tragic car accident that claimed the lives of Samantha and three other area high-school students on Peasleeville Road in Peru, Kelly hopes those who knew her daughter will take comfort in recalling her cheerful spirit.
“She wouldn’t want us to be crying and to be sad,” Kelly said.
Just before 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2011, Samantha, 17, of Plattsburgh was riding with her boyfriend, Brandon Sorrell, 17, of Peru, on Peasleeville Road when the vehicle Brandon was driving struck Dat T. Ong, 17, of Vietnam and Chu “Allen” Xiong, 18, of China.
Dat and Chu, who had been attending Seton Catholic Central School since the beginning of the school year, were walking in the road near their host family’s home when the accident occurred.
All four teens were killed.
“It’s been extremely difficult,” Kelly said of the year since the accident. “Samantha was my firstborn, my only daughter, and she was my everything.
“A piece of my died me that day, and nothing is the same.”
NORTH COUNTRY MOURNED
The horrific tragedy stunned the region.
The day following the accident, a vigil was held on the U.S. Oval in Plattsburgh, where the victims’ families and friends and community members gathered to mourn the young people. Seton Catholic students took part, as did students from Beekmantown High School, where Samantha attended as a junior, and Peru High School, where Brandon had been a senior.
A separate service, which combined the Catholic and Buddhist faiths, was held a week later at Seton Catholic in memory of Dat and Chu, international students from, respectively, Vietnam and China.