Artesia, NM Church Bus And Pickup Collision, May 1999


Artesia, N.M. (AP) -- Six girls traveling home after a weekend retreat with fellow churchgoers were killed when a camper broke away from a pickup truck and struck the bus in which they were riding.
A seventh person driving a pickup truck behind the church bus also was killed in yesterday's accident on mountainous terrain on U.S. Route 82 in Artesia.
The westbound pickup truck swerved and a section of the camper being towed by the pickup "tore along the side of the bus," state police Capt. John Balderston said yesterday. The girls, ages 12 to 17, were killed instantly.
The young victims were among about 80 people from Green Lawn Church of Christ in Lubbock, Texas, who had spent the weekend at Pine Springs Summer Camp, an isolated, mountainous retreat in Lincoln National Forest. The camp near Mayhill is about 150 miles southwest of Lubbock.
Back at Green Lawn Church, hundreds of teen-agers and parents sobbed, held hands and sang hymns after word spread of the accident.
"What do you do in the midst of a tragedy like this?" minister Dale Mannon said in a prayer. "There is nothing pretty about death. We don't pretend to know why these things happen. But we do know that you, Father, know what it is like to watch a child die."
The dead girls were identified as:
The other girls ages were not available.
There was no information available about the pickup driver who was killed and Capt. Balderston said it wasn't known why the other pickup truck swerved.
Three people were in critical condition and three were in serious condition at Alamogordo and Albuquerque hospitals, officals said. Twenty-one other people were treated and released.
Congregant Sarah Johnson said her daughter was on the trip to Pine Springs Summer Camp but escaped injury.
"Every one of those kids is mine, just as if I had them myself," she said. "There are no words .... Right now, we just need to pray. We know that they are in a better place and it's up to us to be there for the parents."

The Capital Annapolis Maryland 1999-05-03


Tragic loss of lives in this horrendous acciddent.

My daughter was one of the girls who lost her life so tragically in this accident. The actual details and truths were covered up by the wealthy church.who didn't seem fit to place these children on safe buses. 'The bus driver was not in his beat when the collision happened. He chose to save himself buy jumping into the floorboard instead of moving over less than two inches which would have come out with a far better result saving some of the six children that were killed. Three of these precious girls lost their lives that day simply because they weren't sitting in a seat at the time of the accident. The only adult on the bus was the youth minister who chose to dive down to save himself than to attempt to save these precious girls. 19 adults were on the trip, yet many chosen to go in safer transportation of their own vehicles. The youth minister choose to have his own wife in a safe vehicle to protect her from danger, and that proved correct. The innocent girl who took her place was one of the six who were killed.Our research has pulled dozens of these old worn out buses off of the road saving countless numbers of lives. I hope that anyone reading this will check out their own transportation and not have to go through the heartbreaking loss of a precious child. My daughter Heather planned on becoming a pediatrician. Her love for children and those gifts she left behind have made all of us closer to her better people. Please check your childs transportation each and every time you place them on these buses. This could mean the difference between laugh and death.