WMS welcomes families who helped after bus accident

WMS welcomes families who helped after bus accident
A large group poses for a photo. Some people are standing against a brick wall holding a sign, while others line a set of stairs behind them.

The Winona Middle School welcomed about 20 special guests for lunch on Tuesday. 

Very special guests.

Last Friday, the families of Beth Anderson, Maya Hagen and Krystle Gathje — as well as several others — sprang into action when a bus taking sixth-graders on a field trip was in an accident. The bus flipped over on a narrow rural road near Forestville State Park in Preston. 

Students and staff were injured. Others were OK, but without strong cell phone reception, they had trouble calling for help. 

They were bruised. They were shaken. They were scared. 

But they weren’t alone. 

A woman and girl pose for a photo

Maya’s husband, James, owns Total Car Care, an auto repair shop, and his employees — Thor Alexander, Noah Young and Reuben Swartzentruber — heard the crash and offered to help any way they could. It wasn’t long before a small village showed up. Melanie Doberenz and family joined the families of Anderson, Hagen and Gathje. 
Anderson was a nurse practitioner, who relied on those skills to help treat those who were injured. She remained on scene, helping as she could, even after the first wave of ambulances and fire trucks arrived. 

Aside from the physical injuries, there were obvious emotional damages as well.

That’s where the families came in. The kids offered to help as well, taking their new friends up to their homes. They shared snacks, water, blankets, ice packs, washcloths, and their pets. 
It was still a scary situation. But it was a little less scary thanks to the warmth, kindness and compassion from these families. 

“We are super thankful we were there to help,” Anderson said. 

WMS students and staff were able to offer their thanks in person. Some made cards, and the families from Preston even brought a sign: “You got this!” They also made stickers that said: "I survived the field trip!"
WMS staff and students also offered the families a gift of a potted plant. On the pot was a quote from Mr. Rogers:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Thank you to the Andersons, the Hagens, the Gathjes, and everyone else who helped our students and staff that day. Thank you for being our helpers. 

We will never forget the kindness you showed our Winhawk family.