Early this week, I visited with people who remember April 10, 1997, as vividly as I do, but from very different perspectives.
The most striking conversation I had was with the widow of one of my dad’s friends, Kenny Spanier. Kenny’s buses ran in St Cloud school district all these years, and his, too, was a family business. After Kenny’s surprising death after a tragic fall, his wife operates the business on her own.
On the day of our crash, she remembers Kenny calling her from their home where he was caring for their infant son. “I gotta go,” he said to her. “I have to be there.” She came home to take the baby, and he headed to Monticello.
I remember those who came that day to our office. I remember how business owners and managers offered to drive buses that day. I remember those who called and left messages, who sent flowers, who faxed their thoughts. I couldn’t interact with any of them at the time. I was afraid of breaking into a million tiny pieces. Still, I remember.
And I am grateful to them.
At the time I recall feeling like we’d let our entire industry down, and the outcry over seatbelts only made it worse. I hated that we were a force behind the most tragic school bus crash in Minnesota history. I felt like everyone was condemning us.
To the contrary, people were loving us and crying with us and hurting for our families.
I’m so glad people share these conversations, these stories that matter so profoundly. It helps to change my perspective so I can see truth in ways I couldn’t at the time.