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Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017

May 16, 1986

Posted Monday, May 16, 2011, at 4:47 AM

The phone rang. This was back in the day before caller ID, but when I realized it was Hubby on the phone, I thought it was a bit odd for him to be calling before school got out. I was on maternity leave because our older daughter was just barely three weeks old. Don said he just wanted me to know he wasn't going to home right away. He said they were on lock down.

Immediate my heart jumped into my throat. What was going on? He wasn't certain but something was happening in the area. He said there wasn't anything bad going on at school and their lock down was precautionary. He said turn on the radio. He wanted to call to reassure me he was fine. That made me feel better but I still wanted to know what was going on.

Today, a person could turn a TV on or click on their computer but twenty-five years ago, the local radio station was the source of the most instant news.

I turned the radio on and when it became evident that the situation wasn't happening in our town, I felt a little better. It is was in a neighboring community and that was still too close.

The radio guys were the ones that Don had played softball with, so it was putting a face to the voice was easy. But by the tone of the reports, there was a sense of grave uneasiness.

I was listening to the live report from the radio station's news guy and I will never forget the utter fear in his voice when he said 'the bomb went off'.

He threw it back to the studio and the phone line went dead. This was in the day before cell phones and the report was coming from a phone near the school. It took the in-studio announcer what seemed an eternity to come back on air. His voice was shaking and he gave a very brief run down of what they knew what was happening. The elementary school at Cokeville (WY) had been taken hostage and a bomb had just exploded. The announcer said as soon as they had any reports they would be back on the air. On came the elevator music.

Again, my heart was in the throat. An elementary school with little kids and the bomb had gone off. I was certainly imagining the absolute worst. I remember just standing by the radio terrified for all those kids and teachers. I remember going an picking up my baby and just holding her and keeping the radio on to find out what had happened.

When the reports came back in that the only fatalities were the crazy people who took the school hostage, it was almost unbelievable. While there were severe burn injuries from the bomb, it seemed miraculous that there weren't more people killed. And it was apparent to many that it was only by the Grace of God there weren't more fatal injuries.

It happened twenty five years ago. My recollections are minor at best because the real story is the one of the survivors of that day in the school in Cokeville all those years ago.

The "Casper Star-Tribune" on-line addition had an excellent story and photo gallery about what happened that day. I would encourage you click and read the story, "The Power of Faith" by Margaret Matray.


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