Smile, love of softball are her legacy

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It was her smile – a “bright, beautiful smile” – and her ability on the softball field that people remember about 6-year-old Zoey Simmons.

Simmons, who was a first grader in Mrs. Turman’s class at Pleasant Home School, perished along with her mother, Lori Lynn Simmons, in a tragic car wreck Monday. The mother and daughter, who live on Beaver Creek Road near Wing, were traveling on Escambia County’s Middle Creek Road to the intersection of Covington County Roads 4 and 51, where Zoey caught the school bus.

Escambia County Chief Deputy Mike Lambert said officials believe Simmons lost control of the car, veered off the road and hit a tree. By the time emergency personnel arrived, the car was fully engulfed in flames.

A passerby who was first on the scene called it in at nearby Elliott’s Store.

“There was no chance of anyone surviving this,” said Alexis Bradley, who came upon the scene while the fire was still raging. “You couldn’t see anybody inside, but I also didn’t see anybody outside so I figured the people in the wreck were still in the car.”

The Simmons family resides in the Rock Creek community, which is about five miles from Bradley and about 30 miles from Brewton.

Tuesday, family friends and school officials described the child as a “ray of light” that was taken too soon.

“Zoey was a real happy child,” PHS principal Craig Nichols said. “She made good grades, and all her classmates loved her. This is one of those things that happens and makes you shake your head. Our hearts and prayers are open to them — we feel their loss.”

Family friend and volunteer firefighter Chris Parsons was one of the first to arrive at the accident scene.

“It was just heartbreaking,” Parsons said. “I know the family — especially Zoey’s grandparents, very well. The family is just devastated. They can’t comprehend.

“I can tell you this about Zoey — that girl loved softball, and she always had a smile on her face,” she said. “Her teammates always cheered for her. She was a good ball player. The family is really struggling with how to handle this. It’s all so very tragic.”

Zoey played county league softball at Pleasant Home. She is survived by her father, Brian, and another younger brother, Parsons said. Lori Simmons was the daughter of Jacky and Cathy Smith of Flomaton.

Bradley Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene with two trucks and put the fire out. According to the Alabama State Troopers, Simmons’ body and that of her child were transported to the Department of Forensics in Mobile to determine the cause of death.