Community remembers teen driver hit by train

Posted at 6:06 PM, Jun 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-13 18:06:53-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- A tragic train accident has many remembering a rising Covenant Christian High School senior from Zeeland Township.

Monday afternoon Ottawa County Sheriff deputies say a 33-car CSX train hit Samantha Lubbers' car as she was driving out of her family's driveway crossing the train tracks.

Lubbers, 17, would have been starting her senior year in the fall. A close friend tells FOX 17 Lubbers was "extremely caring" and the "first person to say hi." Tuesday her high school principal says Lubbers was full of joy, especially while doing things she loved like singing.

"You could tell that the joy of the Lord was in her heart, when she was singing it came through on her face," said Rick Noorman, Covenant Christian High School principal.

"She usually stood above all the other kids: she was tall and you could see her when she singing, and it was a face filled with joy. It’s something we always looked forward to seeing."

A video from mid-May shows Lubbers singing with her peers in choir, just a few weeks before finishing her junior year. Noorman says it was song that brought their school together again Monday afternoon only hours after Lubbers' passing, as many sang and prayed together inside the school's music room.

"We’re going to miss Sammy," he said. "She was a very high source of positive energy that she brought into the school.”

"I would just characterize her as being very comfortable with herself and who she was."

Tuesday CSX Transportation Corporate Communications Spokesperson Gail Lobin released this statement to FOX 17:

"CSX's sympathies are with Ms. Lubbers' family and friends who have been affected by this tragic event. This incident reinforces the need for extra caution around railroad tracks. CSX is cooperating with the local law enforcement agencies in their examination of the incident."

The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office is investigating the crash. As of Tuesday evening Sgt. Steve Austin tells FOX 17 as the investigation continues they determined Lubbers was not using her phone at the time of the crash.

Meanwhile, pictures posted to Lubbers' social media accounts shows her joy, faith and her love for her friends and family, especially her sister Carly who will be going into her high school sophomore year in the fall.

"They just did a lot of things together: they worked together, they played together, they just were very, very close-knit family; not only their family, but their extended family as well," said Noorman.

"Just a very well-grounded Godly family that did a lot of neat things together. Our prayers go out for that whole family."

Noorman says staff will be at Covenant Christian High School this week for any students who need help with the grieving process. He encouraged students to talk with their parents, ministers or call school staff throughout the summer if they need any help.