LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - May 2nd marks the 20th anniversary of a tragic day when six Lubbock girls were killed in a crash in New Mexico while returning home from a weekend church retreat.
A bus carrying 29 members of the Greenlawn Church of Christ was headed home to Lubbock after a retreat in Pine Springs, New Mexico on May 2, 1999.
Shaila Reyna was on that bus. She says she remembers it vividly. “Me and Heather, my friend, and some other friends sat in the back of the bus. We were just driving down and I got up to talk to some friends. When came back, I was going to get back my seat, but Heather said she would scoot over.”
That would end up being a fatal seat for her friend. Shaila was just 12 years old at the time, and Heather Bauman was her best friend. Shaila says she didn’t think twice about switching seats with Heather, but no one could expect what happened next.
“We were just talking, smiling, and eating Starburst together. We were just having a good time, not knowing anything. We just smiled and then we looked down and then I blacked out.”
That’s when they were hit by a trailer that broke away from the pickup. The impact tore open part of the bus.
“I don’t remember seeing, hearing, or feeling anything. I woke up on the floor and everything was just crazy,” Shaila said.
She had no idea how bad the crash was at the time, or that six of her church friends were gone, including her best friend Heather. They all were instantly killed on impact.
The victims were 16-year-old Talitha Beeman, 15-year-old Sara English, 15-year-old Sarah Johnson, 15-year-old Meg Flynn, 14-year-old Astyn Qubty and 13-year-old Heather Bauman.
Now, 20 years later, Shaila says the pain is still there and she sometimes wonders if it should have been her in that seat that she switched. Every year on the anniversary, she makes an effort to remember the six girls lost that day, especially Heather.
On the two-decade anniversary of the fatal bus accident, KCBD caught up with Heather’s family and Shaila as they gathered at Heather’s gravesite in Resthaven.
“Some anniversaries are harder than others,” said Suzanne Bauman, Heather’s mother.
They do it every year on the anniversary and Heather’s birthday to remember and to never forget the impact Heather had on them in her short life.
“She touched a lot of lives and I’m thankful for 13 years we did have her even though it was too short,” Suzanne said.