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Forest Grove sisters involved in fatal crash had 'strong, deep connection'
Celebration of Life service for Samantha Cadd, 14, set Saturday
In the photo, the Cadd sisters of Forest Grove are holding hands and moving in a circle as the Pacific Ocean laps at their feet.
The scene is pure joy: Amie and Jessica are laughing. A long-legged Stephanie grasps the right hand of Samantha, whose back is to the camera. All are in shorts on a hot August day.
But after a terrible car accident south of Gaston last Wednesday, April 6, the youngest sister will be missing from future family photos.
Stephanie was driving south on Highway 47 toward Yamhill late that afternoon to meet Jessica, a George Fox University student, at a bakery where Jessica had just secured a job. She was bringing 14-year-old Samantha ("Sam") along to share in the celebration.
Jessica arrived on time at Bella Luna Gluten Free Patisserie on Maple Street. Sam and Stephanie did not. A northbound car had crossed the highway median just after 4 p.m., causing Stephanie to yank her Chrysler PT Cruiser to the right. The wheels slid sideways and shot the vehicle across the roadway into the direct path of a Toyota Camry traveling north. Its driver, Jill Yoder of Hillsboro, crashed into the passenger side of the Cadd car and sent if off the highway down a short embankment.
Sam died at the scene. Stephanie, 18, was taken by Oregon Lifeguard helicopter to Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland with critical injuries.
Yoder, 57, was rushed to Oregon Health & Science University with serious injuries.
The person who drifted over the center line, identified late Tuesday afternoon as Yamhill resident Andrea Ausmus, 33, escaped contact with the other two cars, according to Oregon State Police Lt. Bill Fugate. She left the scene of the accident but later called to report possible involvement in the crash. Police said Ausmus, who was driving a Dodge Caravan, is cooperating with the investigation, whose findings will eventually be referred to the Yamhill County District Attorney's office for further review.
Lt. Doug Shugart of OSP said it could take months to complete the investigation because of a backlog of fatal crashes statewide. The area where Sam Cadd perished, near milepost 29, "isn't a high-crash area," he noted, though "there have been some accidents" at the intersection of Highway 47 and Flett Road just to the north.
Long roads ahead
On Monday, Jill Yoder remained at OHSU with a broken collarbone, sternum and left fibula and a collapsed lung, but is expected to make "a full recovery," said her husband, Alan Yoder.
Like the Cadds, the Yoders, too, raised a household of four daughters, ranging in age from 17 to 24. Jill, a stay-at-home mom, home-schooled them all.
Alan Yoder said Friday that Jill told him the crash happened in a split second, "like when a deer jumps out in front of you."
From her hospital bed, Jill faintly remembered the Cadd sisters' car crossing the highway in front of her. At first she perceived that the other two vehicles had avoided a collision "and thought, 'Wow, that was close,'" said Alan. "And then the car was coming right at her."
He said it has been difficult for his wife to process the reality that someone died in a crash she was involved in.
"That's one of the hard things," Alan said of the crash trauma and the Cadd familys grief. "I can relate, but yet I can't."
Stephanie Cadd, a longtime dancer who was scheduled to perform with Portland's Pendulum Aerial Arts later this month, suffered a broken arm, a concussion and bruised lungs in the crash. She underwent surgery Thursday on her jaw, which was broken in two places.
She was home from Emanuel Tuesday morning.
Though Stephanie is expected to heal from her physical injuries, the hearts of her parents, Donnita and Dan Cadd of Forest Grove, are shattered after losing their youngest daughter, a free-spirited introvert who had an infectious laugh, played video games with people all over the world and loved the color black. Sam Cadd was a freshman at Forest Grove High School until February, when she transferred to an online academy.
She's completely numb, Forest Grove resident Shelley Draper said of her friend Donnita. Everyone is focusing on Stephanie their first concern is her healing and her dealing with the emotional impact of her sister's death."
Connections cross families
Married for almost 30 years, Dan and Donnita Cadd have centered their lives on their girls, said another family friend, Dannell McKinnon of Forest Grove.
Dan, a building inspector, passed on his dry sense of humor to Sam, Dannell said. Donnita, a daycare provider, worked at Forest Grove Dance Arts for several years to support Stephanie's love of dance.
Her biggest title is mom and wife, Shelley said of Donnita.
Sam was the fifth and last daughter (no sons) in the family.
The couples fourth daughter, Elizabeth, died at birth in 2000.
Among other things, that long-ago sorrow connected Donnita to Shelley, who also lost a daughter shortly after birth, and to Dannell, who lost a twin in utero.
The surviving twin, Alaina, now belongs to a trio of best friends that includes Stephanie and Tommie-ann, Shelleys daughter.
While Stephanie graduated early from Forest Grove High in 2015 and went on to pursue a study of contortion, Alaina is enrolled in Baker Charter Schools' web academy as a senior and Tommie-ann is finishing her final year at FGHS.
They've basically been inseparable since they first became friends, said Dannell.
'Our soft rock'
Tommie-ann and Stephanie met and became friends in sixth-grade. "Tommie introduced Steph to dance," said Shelley, and soon Alaina was a regular part of the teenage trio. They were members of the Junior Vikettes dance team together and have shared everything from sleepovers to travails over boyfriends.
While Alaina and Tommie-ann tend to be spontaneous and sometimes butt heads, Stephanie is non-confrontational and the most sane one in our whole friend group, said Tommie-Ann. She's really strong. She's the core. She's our soft rock.
Now, when Tommie-ann and Alaina talk about Stephanie and the long road ahead, their eyes well up. Stephanie, a smart, focused student with dreams of someday performing contortion professionally, will be devastated over the loss of her sister, said Shelley.
They were really close hands on, touchy, loving and caring.
Samantha had recently cut her long, dark blond hair while Stephanie kept her waist-length, strawberry blond locks. Stephanie, who looks like a goddess, said Tommie-ann, would get her hair and makeup done, but Sam hated makeup. Sam and Stephanie looked so much alike, but their personalities were so different.
Sam had a lot of hidden talents, Alaina said, including a soulful singing voice she looked forward to developing.
The youngest two Cadd sisters maintained a strong, deep connection to the end, said Shelley.
Stephanie's best friends plan to walk with her as she begins to absorb the emotional agony of the accident.
Alaina and I will be with her every step of the way, said Tommie-ann.
Celebration of Life service Saturday
A public celebration of life service for Samantha Destiny Sam Cadd will be held at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16, in Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Center at Pacific University.