Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy

‘It was like she was one of our own’

Jackson Bell

For those who live in the 2500 block of North Myers Street, Samantha

Spratt was like a breath of fresh air.

Two of Rachel Strutt’s children -- Ian and Meghan -- played with


8-year-old Samantha almost every day. She would visit their home to

play games, sing songs, bake cookies and even help Strutt fold


“Because the kids love her and I love her so much, she became part


of our family,” Strutt said. “The whole street is mourning the loss

of her.”

Samantha was killed early Monday morning when her mother fell

asleep at the wheel of the Honda Civic she was driving and crashed

into the center divider of the southbound Golden State (5) Freeway in

Sun Valley, CHP officials said. The girl, asleep in the back seat and

not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the car.

Family and friends are struggling with her absence. Samantha’s


father, Jack Spratt, said he has coped with the loss by keeping

himself busy.

“I’m sure I’ll be hit with more sorrow down the road,” he said

Thursday. “But for now, I’ve got to be strong to get through [the

funeral arrangements].”

Samantha’s mother, Debra Spratt, who is divorced from Samantha’s

father, was returning his car from Simi Valley when the accident

occurred about 4 a.m. Jack Spratt said he had recently returned from


a weekend fishing trip to Mexico and needed the car to get to work.

Debra Spratt, who was wearing a seat belt, suffered minor

injuries. No charges were expected to be filed in connection with the

crash, CHP officials said. Attempts to reach the woman were


Not far from the crash site, on the southbound Hollywood Way

offramp, the Strutt family and other neighbors have erected a

memorial for Samantha. The display includes dolls, stuffed animals,

candles, flowers and a poster that reads, “We will miss you and love

you, Samantha Spratt.”

Terry Stanley, a neighbor of Samantha’s, described the girl as a

blond-haired, blue-eyed California beauty who could inspire Beach

Boys songs. Stanley said she was adored by the whole neighborhood.

“I don’t have children of my own,” she said. “And for those of us

in the neighborhood [without kids], it was like she was one of our


Spratt said he would like to see a tree planted in his daughter’s

memory at Washington Elementary School, where she would have entered

third grade next month.

Strutt, Stanley and others have helped Samantha’s father by doing

chores around the Spratt house, including washing dishes, cooking

meals and helping arrange the funeral service. Stanley said between

20 and 100 people arrive at the house daily to support the family.

“I never knew we had so many friends,” Jack Spratt said. “My

little girl touched so many hearts.”

The service is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today at Bethany Church,

2707 N. Glenoaks Blvd. The family requests donations in Samantha’s

name be made to Burbank Boys & Girls Club, 2244 N. Buena Vista St.