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Public Statements

Making Continuing Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JOHANNS. Mr. President, I am here today to recognize two incredible heroes from Blue Hill, NE, for their courageous actions amidst a terrible tragedy.

On September 5, an accident between a schoolbus and a semitrailer claimed the lives of four members of this close-knit farming community in Webster County, NE. My thoughts and my prayers continue to be with the victims, their loved ones, and the entire Blue Hill community during this very tragic time.

But through the sorrow of this terrible tragedy, a story has emerged that truly epitomizes the word ``hero.'' As one Nebraska newspaper said:

By the grace of God, not all of the kids riding the bus home from school [have been] buried. But their fates could have been much different, if not for two guardian angels.

There were five other students riding the bus on that day who, because of the selfless actions of two brave men, are still alive today. Ron Meyer and Phil Petr arrived on this horrific scene just moments after the crash. Immediately, the two bravely ran onto the burning bus, risking their own lives to save the lives of others. They swiftly and courageously pulled five children to safety. A nearby rancher who witnessed their actions said he is sure the five survivors would have encountered a much different fate had Ron and Phil not been there that day. They are guardian angels whose heroic actions will never be forgotten.

There were other heroes who arrived on the scene and acted quickly to provide care--first responders who also deserve to be commended. First responders risk their lives to save others each and every day, just as our gratitude to them should be expressed throughout the year. But special recognition is owed to average citizens who happen upon horrific scenes and take heroic action.

Although Ron and Phil would never ask for it, many in this community have called for their heroism to be recognized and to be honored, and I could not agree more. Their willingness to risk their own lives to save others serves as a source of inspiration for all of us.

I am honored to call them my fellow Nebraskans, and I want to personally thank them. I thank them for their courage and their selflessness.

Acknowledging their heroism in no way lifts the grief and the sorrow that gripped the community and our State after this crash.

I pray that God brings peace and healing to all those who have been affected. But because of Ron and Phil, my prayer is also a prayer of gratitude.

I thank God for these heroes. I know that no recognition can adequately convey the gratitude felt by the families of the five children whom they saved from that burning bus.

Mr. President, I stand before you today on behalf of the Blue Hill community and all of my fellow Nebraskans to offer my deepest appreciation to Ron Meyer and Phil Petr.

May God bless them and God bless all those affected by this terrible crash.

I thank the Chair.


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