Members of the Broken Bow High School boys basketball team led a large contingency of students, staff and community members onto the high school football field Monday evening, as balloons were released in memory of the schoolâ€™s two coaches and teachers lost in Fridayâ€™s accident.
They never thought it would happen to them.
Hunter Campbell saw the oncoming pickup truck in their lane headed straight for them. He thought they would be able to swerve out of the way in time. It wasn't long after impact he realized how wrong he was.
"I remember (Zane) Harvey trying to swerve out of the way, but there just wasn't time," Campbell said. "I don't think I blacked out at any point, but once I looked up and saw everyone moaning, I crawled out the back and it was just me and Grayson (Minnick) out there."
For Minnick, it was the last words he heard come out of Harvey's mouth that haunted him the first night after the accident. The sound and image may never completely fade from memory.
â€śWe had just come out of Ansley, and I heard Harvey yell 'hold on!' and I looked up and the car was in our lane,â€ť Minnick said. â€śThen we hit. I don't remember the crash, but when I woke up, I knew I needed to call 911.â€ť
The 911 call began a furious string of calls that included the other kids' parents, who began arriving as fast as they could after getting the call. Upon treating the kids at the scene, medical personnel began evacuating the victims to area hospitals.
Austin Reynolds, Scott Gates, Chad Christensen, and Taylor O' Brien were all sent to Kearney for treatment. Marcus Miller was sent to Grand Island. Lane Albus, Grayson Minnick and Taylor O' Brien were all treated at Broken Bow's hospital and released. Hunter Campbell was originally sent to Broken Bow's hospital and then later to Kearney for treatment.
Miller had a slightly different perspective of the crash, but was still able to recall some of the events that happened that day. The team stopped at Sonic to get something to eat before leaving town. This is when Jaden Garey met up with his dad, who gave him a ride home.
On the way home, Miller decided to take a nap. He had become fatigued from the days activities at the basketball camp. He rested his head against the window of the van.
â€śThe next thing I remembered was waking up in the hospital in Grand Island and there was a whole lot of people there,â€ť Miller said. â€śI could tell they were there, but I couldn't really carry on a conversation with any of them because I was too out of it. Other people have told me that I tried to talk, but said really silly things that I don't remember.â€ť
While Miller doesn't recall much of the accident, he considers himself lucky in a way. Not only could his physical injuries have been worse, he wonâ€™t have images of the scene replay in his mind over and over, like some of the other victims of the accident.
In the few conversations he has had with Gates since the accident, who is likely to remain hospitalized at least until the end of this week, he learned that Gates remembers more than he would probably like to.
â€śScott remembers everything about the accident up until he got to the hospital,â€ť Miller said. â€śHe remembers seeing the coaches laying there and Hunter has told me that Scott's screams were pretty terrifying.â€ť
Gates is not the only one. Minnick also remembers seeing his basketball coaches, who were also his friends and mentors, laying lifeless.
â€śI went to the side of the van to see who was still conscious and I could see Scott and see that his arm was broke,â€ť Minnick said. â€śI couldn't see the bottom half, but I could see the bone sticking out of the forearm. When I was walking around, I looked up and saw (Anthony) Blum..â€ť
For all the basketball players, both Harvey and Blum provided enjoyment for the kids as coaches, teachers and friends.
â€śThey weren't just teachers or coaches,â€ť Campbell said. â€śThey were someone I could just talk to. They weren't someone who made me think 'oh I have to go to class and see them today' or 'oh I have to go to practice today', I was excited to see them everyday. It's going to be tough.â€ť
For Minnick, both coaches offered motivation for increasing his skills in basketball and golf. They encouraged him to work on his skills in both sports as much as possible.
â€śThey made me want to play basketball and play golf,â€ť Minnick said. â€śThey motivated me in a lot of ways. Blum was a big impact on me and playing basketball. The things he helped me with and how much he wanted to win and how he was toward us as players and students, he was like a friend.â€ť
At first the players thought that basketball was going to be tough to get back into again, but in the days since the accident, they are starting to realize they have to use the game as motivation to start to get things back to normal again.
Miller, who is also the starting quarterback on the Broken Bow High School football team, is planning to use the leadership skills he has honed on the football field on the hardwood with the team this summer, as the team will eventually start summer workouts and open gym.
â€śI don't know when we'll start, but me and Hunter and Grayson, we're not going to let anybody come in there and mess around. That's not what Harvey and Blum would have wanted. Weâ€™re not going to go in there and just play slap and tickle. We're going to be in there working hard and we're going to be working for a reason. I'll personally make sure that we're bringing the effort that needs to be brought every day.â€ť