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Katy ISD Partners with Kailee Mills Foundation to Educate Students on Seatbelt Safety


January 31, 2022

By Natalie Cook Clark

Katy ISD teams up with the Kailee Mills Foundation to spread the word of seatbelt safety to District teenagers and families. Tompkins graduate Sam Mills, who almost died in an accident, joins the efforts to keep drivers safe.

Katy ISD Adds 'Buckle Up' Signs at All High Schools

“Buckle Up. Someone Loves You” signs can now be seen at the exits of Katy ISD high schools. The message is clearly seen affixed to parking lot stop signs. The goal is to remind drivers, especially Katy high schoolers to wear their seatbelts.

Katy ISD has partnered with the Kailee Mills Foundation, an organization that was created following the fatal accident of high school student Kailee Mills. In October of 2017, Mills unbuckled herself in the back seat of a moving vehicle to take a selfie. Seconds later was ejected from the vehicle and killed instantly.

Tompkins Student Badly Injured

On December 26, 2020, Tompkins High School student and football player Samuel “Sam” Mills was ejected from his vehicle during an accident. Like Kailee, he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Sam was fortunate to survive and uses his experience to educate other teenagers.

Sam Mills speaks out with the Kailee Mills Foundation on the importance of buckling up.

Through public speaking opportunities coordinated by the Foundation and Katy ISD, Sam emphasizes that it only takes a couple of seconds to fasten your seat belt - seconds that can change your life and the lives of those who know and love you.

“Through Kailee and Sam’s story, we can save lives,” says Ted Vierling, Katy ISD Chief Operations Officer. “The signs serve as a reminder to buckle up on every trip, no matter how far you’re going or how short your trip might be.”

Sam Mills Update

Sam Mills successfully graduated from Tompkins High School last year and is now a freshman at Dallas Baptist University (DBU.)

"Last semester was tough, quick, compacted, stressful, and hard,” says Sam Mills. "Decision making and being very impulsive with that is all part of my cognitive injury which made this past semester very difficult.”

Sam went into DBU as a business finance major but switched to psychology when it proved to be too hard.

“"I am learning to slow down, whereas last semester because of my brain injury I go go and go,” says Sam.

"I feel better and taking one day at a time.”

“The Kailee Mills Foundation also provides financial and counseling assistance to families who have lost a loved one due to non-seat belt use,” says Courtney Doyle, representative of the Foundation. “Likewise, a scholarship is also awarded to a student who lost a family member in such a tragedy.”

When Sam was in the hospital, the Foundation reached out to his family to help.

The Foundation Helps People in Need

“We had never heard or seen this Foundation before this time. David Mills the founder and the dad who lost his daughter in a car accident came to visit us where we were staying close to Sam in downtown Houston,” says Carrie Mills, Sam’s mom. “It was an honor to meet him and hear about his work. He came to sympathize with us and show us emotional support, which was more than we could ever ask for.”

The Kailee Mills Foundation also gave financial support to help the Mills Family with their insurance and food for their other 4 children.

“I highly encourage to go and support this foundation,” says Carrie Mills. “They save lives and try to spread the word on the importance of seat belts and distractions.”

Texas law requires everyone in a vehicle to be properly secured in the front and back seats, or they could face fines of up to $200. The Kailee Mills signs are sponsored by State Farm Insurance.


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