Write-Away Firday: Woodlawn Bus Tragedy

This week I had and have (I have performed but there are still performances tonight) the opportunity to experience and share an experience from the past. This was an accident that occurred on a bridge near Fort Sumner in 1972 the day after Christmas. There was two buses traveling from Texas to New Mexico. The first bus passed a tractor trailer and did fine. The second bus however was hit. ” In the flash, Roberts (the driver of the first bus) witnessed the behemoth cattle truck and the trailing bus crash with such ferocity that the collision ripped the bus frame from its body.” Nineteen people killed and sixteen of them where teenagers. I wasn’t there and I don’t quite think my words could even compare to that of the people who where there. The article describes the words of the victims of this accident in a way that clearly says more than I ever could.


“Survivors describe the outlines of terrifying, heart-wrenching scenes — the cries for help, the heroic, frantic efforts to comfort and tend to the injured, the limp and lifeless bodies tangled in the heap. The collision sent luggage hurtling from the back of the bus and wrenched seats loose from the floor moorings, pinning the victims.

“You knew friends were dying,” Wesson said.” 


This next portion of the blog is my part in Ghosts of the Past. Although I did the research in the character and added ideas to the script,  it was actually written by Megan Rupp.






October 2013




(Laura is laying on the ground partially covered by a jacket. She is dazed.) Do you know where the bus is? I can’t find it. I should be on the bus… I can’t believe I ruined my new dress! I just got it yesterday. It was a Christmas present. Mom only let me wear it on the trip, because I promised I wouldn’t get it ruined. Why do I always mess things up? I can’t find the bus… (suddenly very aware.) That’s right. I forgot. The bus is gone. There was a flash of sparks. They looked like Christmas Lights. Then there was a loud crunching sound and my head… it hurt. There was glass. It was broken. The seat was bent. I couldn’t get out! I couldn’t get out! (frantic, grabbing at stomach) Help! Help! It hurts… It hurts… (suddenly calm) Mom’ll be mad that I ruined my new dress. How could I do that? Now I’ll never wear it to Friday Great Hall… and I was gonna finally get Jimmy to notice me… It’s not fair. My stomach hurts. It hurts. It hurts. It hurts! (crying) Why does it hurt? WHY? Where is the bus? I should be on the bus… We’re going to the Bible Retreat. We’re gonna ski…and have fun…We were singing…
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(singing, haltingly)
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Lean on me, when you’re not strong. And I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on. For it won’t be long…


‘Til I’m gonna need somebody… … to lean on. (Laura’s eyes close and her head falls.)


I know history is important and that it is stories of life-changing experiences. I think remembering the past helps to honor those that have had these sorts of tragedies. As well as the bravery of those who were there helping the ones that were injured or didn’t survive. So far I think my performances have captivated the audience and I have share these peoples lives with those who have come to see. I plan to also do a spectacular performance tonight to show that those people matter.

40 years after Woodlawn bus tragedy, survivors recall horror, then outpouring of compassion photo



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