Posted at: 02/28/2013 5:44 PM
By: Dan Conradt
Crisis Team Helps Southland Following Crash
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It was a tragedy that shook a school district and an entire community.
On Thursday, with some help, the healing process began.
"Tess was wonderful," said Southland high school teacher Ethan Riggin. "She just had an energy, an exuberance that exuded from her personality."
On a late February afternoon, a car driven by 16-year-old Tess Landherr of Rose Creek went out of control on an icy stretch of highway 56 near Adams and collided with a Southland school bus.
It was an accident that cost Tess Landherr her life.
"We've got an entire crisis team that's available," said Southland superintendent Steve Sallee.
When students and staff went back to school on Thursday morning, they went back sharing a common grief.
"Most of the students are still in a state of shock," said Ethan Riggin, who was one of Tess Landherr’s teachers.
"I think right now it's just a culture of support is what we're trying to create," said superintendent Steve Sallee.
Social workers, counselors and clergy from schools around the area offered help to Southland students and staff.
"Our role is just to be here to help, say here's some things maybe you don't think about when you're in the middle of a crisis," said crisis team member Brad Bergstrom, who is also principal of Austin High School.
"We've got a safe place for kids to go today where they can hand out with other kids, grieve in their own way," said Southland’s Steve Sallee.
“They're hurt. They don't know what to say or how to express their feelings yet and it's going to take some time," added teacher Ethan Riggin.
“Parents know their children best, and if they see something that is out of the ordinary in the days that follow it is very important that you contact the school and express to them what is going on so the school then can provide those services to help support the needs of the children," said the crisis team’s Brad Bergstrom.
“As a teacher you like to think there's teaching moments in everything” Ethan Riggin told us “But it's really difficult in times like this to say we can teach from this because of the pain the family of southland is in."
A passenger in the car, 15-year-old Anna Bruggeman, was critically injured in the crash.
An 8-year-old on the bus suffered minor injuries.