The Abilene Christian University (ACU) community came together to share memories and tears on November 3rd, the one year anniversary of the tragic ACU bus accident that killed sophomore student Anabel Reid and injured 13 others.
On that fateful day last year, 16 Abilene Christian University students and staff members were travelling southbound on a bus for a mission trip in Medina, a small town situated in Hill County. The driver of the bus was Michael Nicodemus, an assistant professor of environmental science. Although the exact cause of the accident is still unknown, Nicodemus has admitted that he might have fallen asleep at the wheel, causing the bus to veer off the road.
The accident occurred at around 3.20pm between the towns of Ballinger and Paint Rock, about a third of the way into the group’s 220 mile journey. Nicodemus said the bus started to slide after it hit the gravel on the side of the highway. He attempted to correct the bus but was not able to, and the bus hit into a culvert and rolled several times before coming to a stop on its wheels.
The sides and roof of the beef were cleaved off the vehicle, and 12 of the 16 passengers had been thrown out of the bus. 13 injured passengers were transported to local hospitals for treatment. One of the passengers, a faculty member, sustained serious injuries that caused her to be hospitalised for over two months.
Anabel Reid, a 19 year old environmental science major, was thrown from the vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Reid’s family did not press charges against Nicodemus, who walked away from the accident unscathed. However two faculty members on the bus filed a lawsuit in February against the manufacturer of the bus, claiming that the bus was not safe and contributed to the accident. The lawsuit it currently still pending.
The accident had devastating effects on the entire Abilene University community, particularly the environmental sciences department who had organised the trip. Three professors from the department and a number of environmental sciences majors were on the bus. The chairman of the department, Dr. Ed Brokaw, says that they received support and prayers from the entire university community and the rest of Abilene and that students have played a major role in supporting each other through this event.
A chapel service on the anniversary of the accident remembered Anabel Reid, with a tree planted in her memory after the service.