When this girl was just three years old, she made a tough decision for any toddler about her cherished blanket. But later that day, she was killed in a tragic accident while on a family day out. Remembering what her daughter said, her grieving mom vowed to follow through with the little girl’s wishes.
By all accounts, Sadie Grace Andrews was a fun-loving and happy child. The three-year-old will be remembered by her family as a “little blonde bundle of joy.” The toddler had a smile described as “infectious,” and there was nothing but love in her heart.
“Her name means ‘God’s thoughtful princess’,” her mother Corrie described to AL.com in October 2017, through tears for the daughter she lost tragically just the day before. “And she really was that – always expressing gratefulness and love for God and other people.”
Corrie continued, “She would light up a room with her smile; she walked with a skip in her step. I’ve never met a more joyful child who loved God with all her heart.” Sadie is remembered as a friendly and outgoing child, and always the first to make friends with anyone new.
Sadie was the fourth of six children. Before her came two sisters, seven-year-old Sabrina and six-year-old Piper, then older brother Cason who is four. She also had two younger brothers, twins Ryder and Judson aged two. The siblings were all very close.
“Sabrina and Piper said she made playing games fun,” Corrie explained to AL.com. The three-year-old loved the outdoors. Indeed, when she wasn’t playing with her older siblings, she enjoyed bike rides and often would go hiking in Chewacla State Park with the rest of her family.
It was on one such family excursion that tragedy struck on Saturday, October 17, 2017. Mom and dad had taken the kids to a Bruster’s Real Ice Cream near their home in Auburn, Alabama. The Andrews family were known to the owners of the parlor, as they regularly treated the children there.
Outside of Bruster’s is a family area, with picnic tables and a stretch of grass for kids to play on. It was here that the family were enjoying their ice creams while Sadie played nearby. As the children enjoyed the outdoors together, the three-year-old suddenly disappeared.
Though her parents were nearby, no one initially saw what happened to Sadie. Despite searching frantically for their missing daughter, there was no sign of her to begin with. Panicked, they made a call to the local police department reporting the three-year-old as missing.
It was a long and painful 45 minutes before Sadie was found. The little girl was eventually spotted in a sunken grease trap belonging to the ice cream parlor. A staff member of Bruster’s performed CPR on the toddler, with attempts to revive her continuing as police arrived.
The three-year-old was rushed to East Alabama Medical Center. Sadly, though, none of the attempts by first responders or doctors to restore the toddler’s breathing proved successful. Sadie was declared dead at the hospital when all attempts to revive her eventually failed.
Surveillance footage from the area showed that Sadie had been playing on the ice cream parlor’s grounds with two siblings. It appeared as though when she stepped on the lid to one of the establishment’s grease traps, she fell through the covering and into the pit.
Grease traps are used by restaurants and other eateries to capture fats and food waste before they enter sewers. Without the traps, the oil waste from such establishments could swamp waste disposal systems and potentially obstruct drains and pipes.
When kitchen waste enters the grease trap, the weight of any solid food particles present sends it to the bottom of the tank. Substances with a lower density, such as oil, grease or water, will then float to the top. Police believe Sadie drowned when she fell into the tank.
When Sadie was playing on one of Bruster’s grease traps, the pit’s covering gave way. It has been alleged that the lid of the grease pit hadn’t been secured or locked. As the toddler fell into the six-foot-deep underground pit, the trap door closed above her obscuring her from view.
After reviewing video footage from the scene, both the police and Sadie’s family were satisfied that no foul play was involved. The tragedy that befell the three-year-old was accepted as a devastating accident. It was one that shocked the ice cream parlor owners deeply.
The proprietors posted on Facebook, “As the owner of the Auburn Bruster’s, our deepest condolences go to the family of the child who tragically died Saturday. They are acquaintances of ours and have been regular customers. We are truly heartbroken that this happened.”
No one, of course, was more affected than Sadie’s family. Sadie’s uncle, Chad Vermillion, set up a YouCaring page to help pay for the funeral expenses. On it he wrote, “Cason is internalizing grief, didn’t eat, and threw up. Sabrina and Piper are asking lots of questions. Piper wanted to know what they would do with Sadie’s things, like her blanket which she had to have every day.”
This caused Corrie to recall a conversation she had with Sadie the morning her daughter passed away. The three-year-old placed her must-have blanket into a plastic bag and told her mom she would give it away. Mom asked why, and the toddler said she didn’t need it anymore because she was a big girl now.
Sadie’s dad Tracy told AL.com, “I’m just so thankful for the three years we had with her. She taught me about being happy and loving life and loving people. At three years old, there’s no preconceived notions. To her, everybody was good. She didn’t see the bad. She just loved people and it didn’t matter what they did.”