Sen. Mike Johanns took to the floor of the United States Senate to honor two men who pulled five children to safety during the Blue Hill tragedy earlier this month.
Four people died in the fiery collision between a Blue Hill school bus and a semi tractor-trailer late in the afternoon of September 5th. Both drivers died as well as two students.
Johanns told fellow senators about the fiery, fatal crash, stating it could have been worse.
You see, there were five other students riding the bus on that day, who, because of the selfless actions of two brave men, are still alive today.
Ron Meyer and Phil Petr arrived on this horrific scene just moments after the crash. Immediately, the two bravely ran onto the burning bus, risking their own lives to save the lives of others. They swiftly and courageously pulled five children to safety.
Witnesses told of the heroism of the two.
A nearby rancher, who witnessed their actions, said he is sure the five survivors would have encountered a much different fate had Ron and Phil not been there that day. They are guardian angels, whose heroic actions will never be forgotten.
Johanns said neither would ask for recognition of their action, but many in the close-knit community of Blue Hill called for their heroism to be recognized and honored.
Acknowledging their heroism in no way lifts the grief and the sorrow that gripped the community and our state after this crash. I pray that God brings peace and healing to all those who have been affected. But, because of Ron and Phil, my prayer is also a prayer of gratitude.
The Nebraska State Patrol reported the crash occurred just before 5pm on September 5th at the intersection of county road “R” and 1800 Road in Webster County south of the community of Blue Hill. A Blue Hill District school bus, eastbound on county road “R”, collided with a semi-tractor trailer hauling hay bales. The semi was northbound on 1800 Road. The collision knocked the truck into a field in the northeastern corner of the intersection and engulfed the truck in flames. The fire spread to the bus, which landed in a ditch.
NSP reported that 21-year-old Travis Witte of Blue Hill, the driver of the semi, Marla Wentworth, 59, Red Cloud, the driver of the school bus, and two students riding the bus, 18-year-old Dustin Tesdahl of Blue Hill and 10-year-old Caroline Thallman of Blue Hill, were killed in the crash. All four died at the scene of the accident.
The five children pulled from the bus by Meyer and Petr suffered injuries, some suffering burns.
Blue Hill is a small community located approximately 20 miles south of Hastings in south-central Nebraska.
AUDIO: Sen. Mike Johanns’ Senate floor speech honoring heroes of Blue Hill tragedy. [4 min.]