Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Girl with zest for life dies in St. Petersburg accident

Sonia Savage of St. Petersburg had just celebrated her 11th birthday on Thursday.

Sonia Savage of St. Petersburg had just celebrated her 11th birthday on Thursday.

ST. PETERSBURG — "Make sure you're home before dark," Berae Savage told her daughter.

The little girl with hazelnut-colored hair streaked with wheat blonde highlights said she would.

Sonia Savage turned 11 on Thursday. On Friday her best friend, Devin, a boy who looked for any reason to be around her, was going to spend the night at her home on Lincoln Circle N. Before the sleepover, the two planned to visit another friend who lives across First Street N.

When Devin arrived, Sonia hugged and kissed her mother and the two set out — Devin on his bike, Sonia on a scooter.

Around 6 p.m., the three friends turned toward Sonia's home, hurrying to beat the sunset. As they neared First Street, Devin halted before crossing the four-lane road.

"Sonia, stop!" he shouted.

But Sonia, who has the words "Never Stop Exploring" above her bed, charged forward.

"I saw the truck," Devin said. "I guess she didn't."

• • •

"A tomboy in a skirt," is how Berae Savage, 47, described Sonia. She was on the gymnastics team at Shore Acres Elementary School. Sometimes she caught lizards. She'd let them bite down on her ear and she'd feign a sassy sway with her wriggling "earrings." She collected injured animals, nursed them to health. She so loved the outdoors that the most effective punishment was threatening to keep her inside.

Savage, her fiance, Bobby Reichold, 42, and four kids lived in the home, but it seemed like they had many more, what with the four dogs, three cats, a rabbit and a chameleon. Sonia had pleaded for two years for that chameleon. It was her birthday gift this year and she showed it off to the neighborhood.

After Sonia left with Devin on Friday, Savage napped on the couch because she'd been feeling faint. She woke to Devin's screams.

"Sonia got hit," he yelled.

Savage sprinted beside the boy on his bike, past seven houses, to where her daughter lay face down in the street.

A man was crouched beside Sonia — farther down, a pickup truck had stopped in the middle of the road. Savage's gut clenched at the sight of her girl — one arm palm up, another tucked beneath her body, her legs bent more times than she had joints. Savage said she stroked her daughter's head and could hear her struggling to breathe.

The ambulance ride seemed to last hours as paramedics slid tubes into Sonia's throat. And even though her fiance assured her everything would be okay, Savage knew it would not.

• • •

Curled up on the couch Saturday afternoon, Savage chased one cigarette with another.

Her daughter's birthday party was supposed to be today. Sonia had requested a dunking booth. When the dunking booth operators called Saturday to confirm the delivery, Savage told them to bring it anyway. Today they will celebrate her daughter's birthday. At the funeral next Saturday, they will mourn.

Girl with zest for life dies in St. Petersburg accident 11/16/13 [Last modified: Saturday, November 16, 2013 10:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates


    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears


    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'


    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]