A year after the death of Anabel Reid and of the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences bus accident on Nov. 4, the university honored Reid’s memory with a special Chapel service on Friday.
19-year-old Anabel, a sophomore environmental science major from Becton, died after the department’s bus veered off the highway and hit a concrete culvert, nearly ripping the bus’ body from the frame. The 15 other passengers were hospitalized immediately after the accident, and some of them are still coping with injuries from the wreck.
Jan Meyer, assistant dean of Student Leadership Development and executive director of Christian Service and Leadership, took part in planning the Chapel service. She said the service was intended to pay tribute to Anabel while drawing meaningful worship components from people involved in the accident.
“We asked all of the people who were involved in the accident to give us some things that have been meaningful to them over the last year – songs, scriptures, thoughts – some things that have sustained them or some messages they have personally received and that they want to share with the ACU community,” Meyer said.
Mandy Scudder, administrative assistant in the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, said this time was needed for students, faculty and staff alike, to pause and remember.
AES students requested a video be made to show to the Chapel audience.
“They wanted the opportunity to share their story and their testimony of the journey that they have been on since the accident,” Scudder said.
A few other events are scheduled to follow Chapel.
The department will plant a tree in remembrance of Anabel Friday afternoon.
Scudder said once the department moves from the Zona Luce Building into the Hardin Administration Building over the Christmas break, administrators plan to dedicate the student club room for Anabel.
The department also plans to create a wall tribute to Anabel, who was passionate about providing clean water to everyone.
“We want to have a wall space that will be more than just pretty picture of Anabel,” Scudder said. “It’ll be an informational, educational story, giving tribute to Anabel, but it’s also going to be talking about water resources and giving facts and information about how many people go without clean drinking water – how many people die every day because they don’t have clean drinking water.”
From the window of the new room, Scudder said students will be able to see the tree that will be planted this afternoon.
Along with the tree-planting, Scudder said ACU’s Rhoden Farm will host a dinner for those involved in the accident and their families.
“We will laugh a whole lot,” Scudder said, “but we’ll probably cry, too.”
Though the planned events to remember the accident are coming to a close, the struggles for people closest to the accident are far from over.
“Students were broken,” Scudder said, “and so in many ways they still are, and they’re trying to recover and heal.”
One student who was in the bus accident said it doesn’t seem like a year has passed, but that daily reminders of the accident still remain.
Merissa Ford, junior agricultural business major from Maple Valley, Wash., spent six days in the hospital and was released from the hospital nearly a week after the accident with an extensive list of injuries. She suffered a broken vertebra, pelvis and both knees; she also chipped a tooth, bruised a lung, bit a large part of her mouth and had to get stitches from a leg injury.
Ford, who admitted she does not like to slow down, was back in class on Nov. 11, one day after being released from the hospital, sporting a bedazzled-back brace.
Ford’s mother came down from Washington to care for her in the months to follow and she said the injuries have completely healed except for muscle tightness in her back.
Though it has been a struggle at times, Ford said she has already seen how the Lord has used this experience to help others. She said that God, through this tough time, has shown her His incredible love, stressed the importance of opening up to form a close-knit community and given her the wisdom to see that God’s love is given freely.
Ford said she is ready for this weekend because her parents are coming from Washington to be with her and is looking forward to the events, especially the dinner as it will give her parents the opportunity to interact with her peers.
“It’ll be a good time for us to bring closure and just to celebrate living together and living life from now on,” Ford said.