Though just 17, Samuel Forest Ozer was poised to take on the world.
The Germantown resident had just graduated from AIM Academy in Conshohocken, where he was co-captain of the mountain biking team. He looked forward to a life as an outdoorsman and cyclist.
“Sam had become strong, balanced, and an excellent team player, undaunted by challenges and noted for his grit,” said his mother, Mindy Maslin.
On Sunday, June 21, Samuel Ozer died of his injuries when the bike he was riding on Henry Avenue near Barnes Street in Roxborough was struck by a vehicle. The driver stopped, police said, and no charges have been filed in connection with the collision.
As soon as the local biking community learned of his death, it made plans to honor him. On Tuesday, June 23, there was a silent bike ride in his memory. Participants gathered in Manayunk, and rode along Martin Luther King Drive and back.
Services Wednesday, June 24, are private.
Bicycling “was always in his blood,” said his teacher and cycling coach, Anne Rock. His father, Sidney Ozer, and grandfather Morris Ozer were founding members of the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia.
“Sam left a strong legacy and will be remembered as the outstanding young man he had become,” Rock said in an online message.
Born in Pennsylvania Hospital, Sam Ozer was the only child of Sidney Ozer and Mindy Maslin. His father is a contracting officer for the Environmental Protection Agency, his mother the founder and program manager of Tree Tenders for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
When Sam entered AIM, a school for bright students with dyslexia, he didn’t know the sounds of the alphabet, Maslin said. In 10 years at AIM, he learned strategies to manage his limitations and excel.
“He could have been mainstreamed, but we kept him at the school because of the amazing resources it offered,” his mother said.
Not only did he get a chance to lead the school’s mountain bike team, he was a member of its robotics team. He volunteered for the Scenic Schuylkill Century, a cycling event hosted by the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia.
Mr. Ozer had many friends, a girlfriend, and his dream summer job, building bicycles at the Trek Manayunk bike shop on Main Street. He was returning home from his job when he was killed, his parents said.
With an easygoing disposition and dazzling smile, Sam Ozer was something of an adventurer. He craved fresh powder ski touring.
In 2019, he took an 18-day, off-the-grid canoe trip with Camp Chippewa in northern Minnesota. Participants braved wind, rain, and near-freezing temperatures.
They slept wrapped in sleeping bags on snow fields and paddled through a pod of Beluga whales before ending at Hudson Bay in Churchill, Manitoba.
By the time Sam Ozer graduated from high school, he had two Cabrini University classes under his belt. He had applied to six colleges, and all accepted him, but he had his heart set on the University of Vermont School of Engineering.
First, though, he planned to spend a gap year starting a Timberline Academy program to get experience and training as a wilderness ski instructor in Banff, Alberta. “Samuel was strong, smart, level-headed and adventurous,” his mother said. “He loved his friends, his family, and his world. He was so happy. If he had to go at 17, the 17 years were well spent.”