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  • Rita Gleason

Resilience in the Face of Tragedy- Series 7

Perhaps one of the best-known heroes of the tragedy at Columbine was teacher and coach Dave Sanders. He, along with custodians John Curtis and Jay Gallatine, helped to herd 100 or more students out of the cafeteria and away from danger. Sanders then ran upstairs directing students and teachers to take cover inside classrooms before he was shot from behind by Eric Harris. Sanders made it into a science classroom with the help of fellow teacher, Rich Long. Once inside, student Aaron Hancey, with help via a 3-way call with his father and 911, attempted to render aid to Sanders. The students supported Sanders head with shirts, covered him with a blanket and Hancey applied pressure to Dave’s wounds to help control the bleeding. Aaron took pictures from Sanders’ wallet and talked about them with Dave in an effort to keep him conscious. Fellow student Kevin Starkey assisted Hancey in caring for Sanders and student Deidra Kucera posted the now easily recognizable “1 Bleeding to Death” sign in the window in desperate hope of summoning help. Despite the efforts of these amazing students, Dave Sanders did not survive.


There are also lesser known heroes from April 20; some whose names we never even learned. Like the students who yelled warnings for others to run or to hide because there were people with guns. Or the SWAT officer who led Peggy Dodd out of the library; he instructed her to look only at the back of his helmet thus sparing her from witnessing the bloodshed. And like the dozens of homeowners nearby the school who opened their houses to fleeing students, providing them refuge and allowing them to call their parents to let them know they were safe. Before they could be evacuated to area hospitals, some of the wounded were moved to safety into the surrounding neighborhoods. Many of those people came out of their homes to help tend to the injured and there were countless students like Peter Ball, Patti Blair, Heidi Johnson, Amanda Stair, Crystal Woodman, and Dan Steepleton (despite being hurt himself) who assisted with first aid by using articles of clothing to control bleeding and comforted the wounded by holding hands, praying with and reassuring them until medical help arrived.

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