FOX RIVER GROVE – A woman who was a student at Cary-Grove High School during the deadly 1995 bus-train crash in Fox River Grove is speaking out about tragedy and change in light of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
A gunman opened fire and killed 17 people Feb. 14 at a high school in Parkland. The shooting has renewed talk of gun control in the U.S. from Parkland victims, activists, politicians and the public at large.
“As these shootings happen, I look at the faces of these teens and see the pain and trauma they are experiencing,” said Heather Booth, now of Westmont. “I think some part of all of us at Cary-Grove [High School] can relate to their pain. It’s obviously a different type of tragedy, but the similarity is that we have lost people we care about in a horrible way.”
The Fox River Grove crash occurred Oct. 25, 1995, at Algonquin Road and Route 14. Seven Cary-Grove High School students died and dozens were injured when a school bus driver drove over the train tracks at Algonquin Road and stopped at the red light with the bus’s rear extended about 3 feet into the path of the train.
The National Transportation Safety Board issued new recommendations after an investigation of the crash, and changes were implemented across the board on communication, engineering and training practices, among others.
“And as kids, here’s what this meant: We saw something awful happen, then we saw adults support us, then we saw them make change happen to keep that awful thing from ever happening again ... “one of her Tweets read.
Booth said in a series of tweets – the first post was retweeted more than 52,000 times as of Friday afternoon – that she could relate to the intense emotions many have in the aftermath of the shooting. The incident has sparked numerous gun control proposals – President Donald Trump has suggested a ban on bump stocks, for instance, and a Florida Legislature proposal suggests arming teachers.
Students also are engaged in activism and have been targeting lawmakers and the National Rifle Association on Twitter, demanding gun reform.
“Working with teens, I see their optimism and passion for making the world a better place,” Booth said. “The adults in this situation need to do more to meet that and help them achieve the vision they have.”
Booth made clear she wasn’t making an assertion about her opinion on gun control.
“There are a lot of avenues to combat gun violence, and I think all of us have a role and skills to make it happen,” she said. “Regardless of where you stand on gun legislation, I think there are ways we can support our communities.”
Those supports should include school and teacher support and mental health support, she said.
“It’s a difficult problem,” she said. “There are different ways we can work toward improving it.”