Terror at the Airport

Luke Bresette was 10 years old (courtesy of Bresette family)

Expensive tickets. Baggage fees. Long lines. Delays. Body cavity searches. Terrorist watch lists. Equipment malfunctions.

All of these things are synonymous with air travel in the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks. And since that fateful day, I suspect most of us who are forced to travel by plane dread the experience of racing to the airport and dealing with all the stresses involved.

Probably the last thing we consider is the actual airport structure itself. Yet that is exactly what changed the lives of a family from Overland Park, Kansas forever.

On Saturday, Ryan Bresette and his family were returning from a beach vacation and connecting through Alabama’s Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. With him were his wife Heather and his three sons: Tyler, Sam and Luke. Bresette’s daughter Anna didn’t make the trip.

As the family walked towards the gate of their final flight home, they passed under a huge digital sign, the kind that shows arrivals and departures. This was in a new part of the airport that had recently been modernized and remodeled.

Unfortunately, it seems that someone left this sign unfinished because just as Bresette and his brood passed under it, the sign came crashing down. Larry Snyder was riding up the escalator at the time and saw it happen.

“The family was crushed, little kids crushed underneath the sign,” he told local reporters later. “And everybody was scattering to lift it up.” Snyder included.

By the time rescue workers and other technicians arrived on the scene, young Luke Bresette—a fifth grader at a Catholic school in Kansas City—was dead. His mother Heather broke both of her ankles and her pelvis. She remains in critical condition at a Birmingham hospital. Luke’s brother Tyler suffered a concussion, while his brother Sam broke his nose and his leg. At last check, they were both in fair condition, but doctors are optimistic.

What caused the sign to fall? (courtesy of Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

None of this changes the fact that Luke is gone, of course. And though many have said this was simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, I tend to disagree. To me, this was a case of someone doing a half-ass job and killing an innocent child in the process. Sure, it was indirect and presumably unintentional, but it still happened. And it certainly didn’t need to.

I truly feel for Ryan and the Bresette family. Losing a child has to be the worst experience a parent can have. And since my own son is also named Luke, I can’t help but think how I would feel if this had happened to me. Not to make light of this terrible tragedy, but it would be like one of those Earth-killing asteroids impacting our planet and ending all life as we know it. Only the asteroid would be overwhelming grief and the life it would snuff out would be my own. I just don’t think I could handle it.

Please pray for the Bresette’s during this difficult time. And pray that Luke is in a better place than the crumbling, darkening world he was just forced to leave. It certainly couldn’t get much worse.

Posted on March 25, 2013, in Family, Perspectives and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. What a tragedy, I’ve been involved with situations where both adults and kids have passed, during my time with the PD. My heart goes out to the family…

  2. Agree completely. This isn’t a wrong time, wrong place scenario. This is just a lazy person not doing their job right. Such a shame someone had to lose their life over this. Such a young age too. Awful.

  3. I hate when people start something and don’t finish it. I am sorry for this family’s loss. I hope everyone heals.

All replies welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: