PARIS — Circled by more than 150 people, Bourbon County Middle School principal Travis Earlywine released 13 heart-shaped pink balloons Sunday in memory of eighth-grader Emily Sams, who was killed Saturday in an accident on Interstate 64 in Scott County.
During a two-hour vigil on the school's steps, Emily, 13, was remembered for her infectious smile and love for people.
"People liked her, she liked them and she smiled a lot," said Earlywine, who was overcome with grief during interviews and the vigil. "She treated people the way she wanted to be treated, and I can't say that about every single student, but it's easy to say it about her. She was just a sweet, sweet kid."
Emily was a member of the volleyball and basketball teams, and her jersey hung on a column at the school entrance as teammates, staff members and friends talked about her amid sobs that drowned out nearby traffic noise.
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Emily was riding in a westbound pickup with her parents, Jeff and Shella Sams, when the driver of a Toyota Camry overcorrected, and the car collided with the family's truck about 7:15 a.m. Saturday. Emily was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene. Jeff and Shella Sams were taken to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.
During the vigil, Earlywine said Jeff Sams had undergone surgery on his hip and was doing well, and Shella Sams was able to move her arm and fingers.
As of Sunday night, Jeff Sams was listed in fair condition. Shella Sams remained in critical condition, according to UK Hospital officials.
Earlywine said the community would continue to pray for the family. Grief counselors will be at the middle school Tuesday.