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  • Rita Gleason

Resilience in the Face of Tragedy- Series 4

Updated: Aug 8, 2018

More stories of compassion and heroism from the Columbine attack...


Peggy Dodd was a library assistant at Columbine High School in April 1999. When Eric and Dylan headed for the library, Peggy guided 3 students into the magazine room with her to hide. She later directed them out an emergency exit and remained in the library trying to get other kids out. Peggy did this despite knowing that both Harris and Klebold disliked her and that if they saw her she would likely be a target.


Student Nicole Nowlen found herself exposed sitting under a table in the library. She looked across to where John Tomlin was hiding, thought it a better spot, and asked if she could hide there as well. After checking to make sure the coast was clear he waved her over and when Nicole was frightened, John held her hand to comfort her. Tomlin was killed by bullets from both Harris and Klebold. Nowlen was injured but survived.


Kacey Ruegsegger was a junior at Columbine when Harris and Klebold stormed the library. Although badly injured, Kacey survived and told police of the people who helped her that day. Once Eric and Dylan left the library and students began escaping, Craig Scott helped Kacey get out despite the fact that she was moving slowly and they were being trampled by other panicked students desperate to flee. Once they reached the triage area outside, Sara Huoy held a shirt to Ruegsegger’s wounded shoulder to stop the bleeding and a woman provided her water from a hose. A nurse tended her injuries and a man gave her a phone so that she could call her mother.


In the same triage area, students Evan Todd and Ryan Barrett held the hand of a badly wounded Michael Johnson, helping to keep him awake and reassuring him that he would survive.


While other students were fleeing the cafeteria, senior Nick Foss ran outside into the thick of things to see what was going on. Foss checked on two people who had been shot but believed they were already dead. His head was grazed by a gunmen’s bullet. Once back inside, Foss assisted other students/ and teachers hiding in a bathroom with him to crawl into the ceiling by letting them up onto his shoulders. When asked by an investigator why he didn’t escape when he had the chance, Nick said it was because he knew that others needed help.

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