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Tompkins Grad Sam Mills Uses Tragedy to Open Eyes of Other Teens


May 19, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark

A Tompkins senior, and car crash survivor, hopes to raise awareness on the importance of seat belts as the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reports an alarming spike in deaths linked to not wearing them.

Katy's Sam Mill's shares his story at a Kailee Mills Foundation safety event. Photo credit: Carrie Mills

On December 26, 2020, Samuel or “Sam” was driving home after his shift at the Pin Oak Chick-fil-A when he lost control of his vehicle and it flipped. He was ejected from the car resulting in severe head trauma that left him fighting for his life. Still, to this day, he continues to recover from the accident.

The Tompkins High School senior, who played football at the time of the accident, is thankful for the community support. Following the accident his family experienced an overwhelming amount of community support demonstrating the full power of the Katy community.

Thankful for Prayers and Support

“The kindness and thoughtfulness have been meaningful,” says Sam Mills. “They are still faithfully praying for me, which I still need a lot of.”

“My wife said, you know God is at work when the Katy Tigers donate to a Tompkins football player,” says Rick Mills

Sam's car after the accident. Photo courtesy: Carrie Mills

His journey of recovery and celebrating milestones, like returning to school has been followed on his Stand with Sam Facebook community page.

“I’ve said this before, but their support has helped me heal and how I should be more grateful for my life,” says Sam.

Sam Shares His Story

Sam shared his story during a press conference event in Corpus Christi with the Kailee Mills Foundation.

Kailee, a Houston teen was in a car accident with her friends. She was ejected from the vehicle and killed instantly. Her friends walked away with minor injuries. She was the only one not wearing a seat belt.

Increase in “Unbuckled” Motorist Deaths

Last year, the simple act of buckling up saved many Texans from death or serious injury in crashes. Unfortunately, in 2020 there was a 16% increase in deaths of unbuckled motorists. There were 1,073 fatalities in 2020 and 926 fatalities in 2019 due to people not wearing seat belts.

Putting on a seat belt only takes a few seconds and doing so reduces the risk of dying by up to 45% for people in the front seat of passenger cars and up to 60% for people in pickup trucks.

“We are all guilty of it,” says Sam. “Take three seconds of your time to put your seat belt on could save your life and someone else’s. Seat belts are not the only issue. Cell phones, speeding and music up too loud can cause an accident.”

“It’s not worth doing what you want to do and impressing others by risking your life and others with these distractions,” says Sam. “When I start driving again, I desire to be more cautious and careful.”

Sam still is recovering from his accident. While returning to finish school with his friends was an amazing accomplishment, he says it was overwhelming.

“It was nice to have some normalcy,” he says. “I struggled and got tired at the beginning. I had to take it a day at a time.”

What’s Next for Sam

Sam will graduate next week with his senior class. He will be studying finance this fall at Dallas Baptist University, where his oldest brother attends.

This summer he hopes to continue to work at Chick-Fil-A and lifeguard some at Typhoon Texas along with twin brother.

“I look forward to what lies ahead and moving on to recovering with my injury,” says Sam. “I still have issues with understanding situations, reasoning, short term memory, and finding words to say.”

“Struggles and hard times will come our way, however it’s nice to know I have prayers over me to keep me going or trying on the right path,” says Sam.

“This past year we have all been reminded of the simple acts we can take to protect our lives and those of our loved ones,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass.

This is the very mission of the Kailee Mills Foundation that Sam spoke at.

Sam Tells His Story to Save Lives

“She died not wearing her seat belt and I told my story with May being safety awareness month,” says Sam. “Maybe in the summer, with school behind me, I can do more.”

“Wearing a seat belt is the most important step we can take to protect ourselves from serious injury or even death in a traffic crash. Instead of putting yourself and others in danger, remember buckle up day and night, every rider, every ride,” says Director Bass.

Earlier this week, the families who found Sam after his accident and stayed by his side, were honored by the Katy City Council.

It’s the Law

Texas law requires everyone in a vehicle to be properly secured in the front or back seat or face fines and fees up to $200. Children younger than 8 years old must be restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. If a child isn’t secured, the driver faces fines of up to $250.


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