Samantha “Sweet Sammie J” Volmert

On February 29th I woke up, stretched, turned my alarm off, and started mindlessly scrolling Facebook. I came across several “I’m so sorry, what a terrible tragedy” type post in my newsfeed about a friend  from high school. Of course I naturally went straight to her page trying to figure out what in the world had gone so terribly wrong.

I remember frantically scrolling down and then gasping out loud. Tears sprung out and ran down my cheeks and face.

I hadn’t spoken to Keri in years, but we definitely keep up on Facebook. We’d see something on each other’s page and comment, rarely sending the other a private message…

Keri was in my home room in high school. I was always amazed by her perfect clothes and make up. Especially since I am almost 40 and still cannot do eyeliner well.

Keri was the ultimate girly girl in high school. On Facebook I would comment that “some things never change.” I am so jealous of how great her hair and make up look every day, the  girl is on fleek. She also loves football and hunting, and she’s pretty much just amazing and awesome.

However, no matter how pretty you are, how much money you have, or who you know, tragedy strikes us all. It’s part of the human experience. And tragedy struck her on February 29th. Her are her own words…

“On February 28, 2016, I changed my precious baby into her tiny nightgown, wiped her snotty little nose, walked through the living room with her in my arms as she proudly said “night night” to her Daddy and big brother. I carried her up the stairs and placed her down in her beautiful crib that was made for a princess. She cried a little bit, and I walked out of the room knowing she would be asleep within two minutes as she always was. I never would have imagined that would be the last time I would see her alive. The desperation and screeching panic in my husband’s voice the next morning as he went to retrieve her from upstairs is something I will never forget. I was in the kitchen making coffee and as soon as he screamed “Keri” I knew something was terribly wrong. I froze and he yelled my name again as he ran down the upstairs hallway. “I think Sammie is dead.” I met him as he rushed down the stairs carrying our precious angel who just hours before had been so feisty and full of life. Attempts to resuscitate her did not work and she was pronounced dead fifty minutes later at the emergency room. Even though our upstairs thermostat was set on 72 degrees cool, the heater was blasting upstairs and it felt like a sauna. The temperature registered 99 degrees on our thermostat which was as high as it could go (meaning it was over 100 degrees.) Sammie died of hyperthermia. Doctors believe she never woke up or made a sound since children (until age 3 to 5) cannot regulate their own body temperature as older children and adults are able to do. Throughout our shock and disbelief, we have researched and found cases similar to ours. Upon preparing to become a mother, I read multiple books and stories on possible dangers that could harm babies and toddlers. I knew blankets, stuffed animals, pillows, etc. could be dangerous to babies before they were a year old. Both of mine slept in sleep sacks with an angel care breathing monitor until they were one. I was such a worrier and they both stayed in bassinets in our room until they were six months old. I wish I had once read about this. There is a cheap temperature monitor I could have had-would have had If I had heard of even one instance where a child could die by a heater not turning off like it is supposed to. Our son, Jackson, is three years old and had been sleeping in our bedroom downstairs for a year because he claimed monsters were in his room! Doctors said he would have likely died if he had been in his room. We want others(especially those with two-story homes) to hear Sammie’s story so that children can be protected and other families spared from the horrific grief we are forced to endure each day.”

Today they will celebrate Sammie’s second birthday as an angel in heaven. I cannot even imagine what Keri, Larry, and Jackson will have to endure today. I hope God holds them close in the palm of his hand as they release balloons with messages on them to their sweet baby angel in heaven.

I never met Sammie, but I feel like through Facebook that I got to “know” her. I “liked” every picture that I came across of her. She was always smiling, a lot of times with a halo of flowers on her beautiful crown of hair, and she was always eating something that I wished I had in front of me.

Keri, Larry, Jackson, and your family and friends, I am praying for you all. And I encourage anyone who reads this post to do the same.

In honor and loving memory of Samantha “Sweet Sammie J” Joyce Volmert.

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