DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA)–A community is in mourning. “I was in shock, and I thought no that can’t be right,” said Cheryl Valdahl, a teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes. Lori Samples was a teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes for over 30 years. She was one one of two people who died Friday afternoon in a car crash in Sullivan. She was driving the SUV that police say pulled in front of the bus.
“My heart just sunk,” said Kathy Hamilton, a teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes. Samples taught 2nd and 3rd grades at Our Lady of Lourdes. There were therapy dogs and a crisis intervention team at the school. “She was there to help if you needed something after school. I remember her smiles and her laughter,” said Hamilton. “Teachers, students, parents loved her, and she cared a lot about her students,” said Valdahl.
She left Our Lady of Lourdes last year and was working as a full time substitute teacher at Okaw Valley Schools before she died. Teachers say she was excited about her new job. “She was helping junior high students and the things she was doing with those students and even for students,” said Valdahl. Samples had two children, a husband, and hundreds of children she helped grow through her years as an educator. “We know she’s with God and so is Tyson, and we’ll always be praying for them,” said Hamilton. “She won’t be forgotten and her care and compassion for others shown through all of the countless lives that she’s touched,” said Valdahl.