High school mourns teacher Sam Bixler, 29, who lost fight to recover after hit from car
The pedestrian hit by a car last month – beloved high school history teacher and Cambridge resident Sam Bixler, 29 – died Wednesday after a struggle with the complications of brain trauma.
Bixler, hit by a car at 12:56 a.m. Jan. 13 as he crossed Massachusetts Avenue near Douglas Street, was rushed to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston after the collision for emergency surgery to relieve pressure from his swollen brain, according to a website created by family to share news.
Though he was in only his first year at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, he had already made a significant impact on students and staff, Principal Damon Smith said in an email Thursday.
“He was thoughtful, energetic and easily connected with students and staff. He will sorely be missed, and I know it will be difficult for our community to understand and process this news,” Smith said, noting Bixler’s work with students as well as with colleagues on the Level Up Team to bring a more equitable approach to World History 2 courses to the school.
“He demonstrated a strong commitment to expanding equity and opportunity in our school community,” Smith said.
Bixler was an urban fellow for AmeriCorps and a teacher in Lawrence Public Schools before moving to Cambridge. He was working on a master’s degree in education policy and leadership studies from Boston University, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Julian Knight, an 11th-grader who was in Bixler’s class last semester, called him “an amazing teacher and extremely kind to everyone.”
“It was his first year at CRLS, but he was liked by many people and made AP Comparative Government a great experience,” Knight said. “He was very knowledgeable and always willing to help students, and he’s going to be missed by a lot of people.”
The high school’s Acute Response Team met early today to develop a support plan in the wake of the news, Smith said. The school reached out to the Riverside Trauma Center and had grief counselors as well as CRLS social workers and school psychologists onsite to support students and staff. The school had identified and reached out to students and staff members who worked most closely with him.
Friends and family – who lost Bixler’s mother to Parkinson’s disease in December – mourned as well. Daniel DeLay, a friend from Bixler’s days at Ohio Wesleyan University, said during his fight for recovery that support was flowing in from around the country and world. It was “so clear how loved he is by everyone that has ever met him … It is evident when you see him with his friends and family and with his students that he has always worked tirelessly to serve,” DeLay wrote.
The collision that killed Bixler remains under investigation, according to the office of Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan. But the driver of the Toyota Camry that hit Bixler, a 35-year-old from Cambridge, remained on the scene after the incident, and no charges have been filed.
Jean Cummings contributed to this report.