Levi O’Rourke knew she was special the moment he heard his future wife’s voice over the phone.

“I couldn’t believe what I just heard,” said O’Rourke, 33. “I began talking to her, and that was the longest phone conversation I’d ever had in my life. I couldn’t get her voice out of my head. It made me extremely happy.”

Nearly four years later, O’Rourke proposed to Samantha on one knee, taking on the role of father to her four children.

“I knew I was safe for the rest of my life from that moment on,” he said. “I had four kids that called me daddy and loved me. I was the dad, I was the coach. I was very prideful that she said yes. Nobody ever put up with me long-term,” said O’Rourke, who described himself as a stubborn old Irish man. “She put up with me, and every single day she worked on bettering things.”

Samantha O’Rourke, 31, was driving with two of her children in the family’s Hyundai Elantra north on State Route 661 near Airport Road in Knox County around 6:45 p.m. on Aug. 1. O’Rourke stated that he saw a pickup truck approaching their vehicle.

“I reached up with my left hand to grab the steering wheel to get us in the ditch,” he explained, “but I didn’t get my hand over the steering column.” “Our course was altered in an instant. I recall the impact.”

Passers-by, according to O’Rourke, dragged him out of the car. He claimed he had significant leg and hip injuries and that they wouldn’t let him see his wife or children.

“Samantha’s last image I had was of her leaning over the steering wheel. I couldn’t take her hand in mine. I couldn’t even stroke her cheek to comfort her “He stated. “I had to find out from a hospital employee that my wife had died. I had to inform my children that their mother had died.”

The two children in the car are still in critical condition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, where they were flown by medical helicopter. O’Rourke was also airlifted from the crash and is still being treated at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, the driver of the Chevrolet Silverado pickup, Vince Arthur, 36, of Rineyville, Kentucky, about 50 miles southwest of Louisville, suffered minor injuries. He was taken to Knox County Hospital for treatment before being arrested. He is being held in the Knox County jail on charges of aggravated vehicular homicide, multiple counts of aggravated vehicular assault, and driving while intoxicated.

According to troopers, Arthur, who turned 36 on the day of the crash, was traveling at a high rate of speed when his pickup crossed the centerline and collided head-on with the O’Rourkes’ vehicle. Arthur’s preliminary hearing date has been pushed back to August 17, but he could be indicted before then.

A bartender, who has yet to be identified by the Ohio Highway Patrol, has also been charged with providing alcohol to an intoxicated person.

O’Rourke described his wife as having a big heart that shone through her bright hazel eyes and lively laugh. The couple, who had been married for eight years, had planned to relocate from their Mount Vernon home in the coming weeks.

Samantha had recently completed training to become a general manager of a store with Love’s Travel Stops and was expecting to find out where they were relocating to before the end of August.

The Mount Vernon Apostolic Church has established a fund to assist the family in rebuilding their lives and covering expenses. Donations received by August 31 will be given to the O’Rourke family.

O’Rourke expressed gratitude for the love and support shown to him and his family, and he believes the prayers are having an impact on their lives. But he wishes he could reclaim his wife.