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Editorial: Heroism amid bus tragedy

If you look closely enough, there is often an act of heroism, selflessness and compassion in the midst of a tragedy. This is what appears to have been the case in the June 23 crash of a bus carrying teens from the University of New Mexico Aquinas Newman Center home from a conference in Denver, Colo., that left two people dead.

One of those was Jason Marshall, a seminarian from Staten Island, N.Y., who was accompanying the teens at the Steubenville of the Rockies Youth Conference. The other was bus driver Anthony Padilla.

Early comments, reportedly by parents who were on the bus, reveal that Marshall, 53, realized Padilla, 36, was in the midst of a medical episode and took action to try to prevent the accident. He reportedly tried to grab the steering wheel to stop the bus from veering off the road, while two other adult chaperones attempted to reach under the driver’s seat and apply the brakes. Those two were seriously injured.

Marshall had been assigned to Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Las Vegas, N.M., last summer, where the church’s pastor, the Rev. Rob Yaksich, says he is remembered fondly for his warm personality. Archbishop John Wester describes Marshall as a “humble man who deeply cared for others.”

Trooper Gary Cutler, a Colorado State Patrol spokesman, said June 27 the crash investigation was ongoing and he could not confirm whether Marshall died trying to stop the bus. But the reported actions of the seminarian, as well as those chaperones, to risk their lives to save others exemplifies the best in our fellow man.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.