Tonganoxie youth remembered for 'lighting up a room'

June 8, 2015, 12:43 p.m. Updated: 9 June 2015, 10:36 a.m.

Sierra Sommer was known for lighting up a room.

She, also, as others noted, was a bit of a chameleon at Tonganoxie High School in that she had the knack for fitting into various circles. She had a diverse group of friends.

"She was the life of the party and she knew it, whether it was in a social setting or in chemistry class," said the Rev. Jeff Clinger of Tonganoxie United Methodist Church.

Clinger led a prayer during the vigil for Sommer, a Tonganoxie High School student who died in a car accident Thursday night. She was 17.

The accident occurred about 8:35 p.m. Thursday near 166th Street and Evans Road near Basehor.

Rebecca G. Carroll, 18, Bonner Springs, was facing south at 166th and Evans in a 2007 Silver Ford Focus when she started into the intersection, according to Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office reports.

Carroll did not see a 2007 Subaru Impreza, driven by Richard L. Miller III, 19, Tonganoxie, Sommer and another passenger, Zachary C. Garner, 19, Tonganoxie, were passengers in the Subaru, which struck Carroll's vehicle and caused it to spin in the intersection. The Subaru was traveling at a high rate of speed, according to reports.

The Subaru then veered to the southwest and left the road, striking a utility pole at the back driver-side door. The vehicle went airborne before hitting the ground and rolling once side-to-side as it came down the hill.

Garner, who was the front-seat passenger, and Miller were ejected from the vehicle.

Bystanders pulled Sommer, who was unresponsive, from the backseat and administered CPR, but she later died at the scene, reports said.

No one in the Subaru was wearing a seat belt, while Carroll was wearing a seat belt, according to reports.

Miller and Garner were taken by Leavenworth County Emergency Medical Service to Kansas University Hospital. Carroll also was transported to KU Hospital. A hospital official there said Tuesday that Carroll and Garner were patients, but did not have condition reports. He could not confirm that Miller was a patient at the hospital.

Counselors and support staff, including Tonganoxie Ministerial Alliance members, were on hand Friday at Tonganoxie High School to assist students with grief counseling.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends,” said Lyn Rantz, Tonganoxie USD 464 superintendent.

Services took place Tuesday morning at Tonganoxie Christian Church.

Sommer would have been a senior in the upcoming school year at THS. Miller and Garner are 2014 THS graduates.

Fairmount and Stranger township fire departments assisted on the scene.

Alcohol was not thought to be a factor in the wreck, reports said.

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