The Car Wreck, May 28, 2024

May 28, 2024 (Part 1)


This afternoon at 2:36, I was sitting at my desk processing year-end paperwork, with files and folders and report cards and permanent records around me, when




I opened my eyes, thinking bomb! with dust clouding the room and debris raining down on my head. My eye caught sight of something coming through the classroom wall, and I jumped from my chair at the desk and raced outside to find a red Mustang buried windshield deep in the schoolhouse.


I knocked on the driver's window, and there was no response; he didn't move, just leaned into the now-deflated air bag. I ran back inside to grab my phone, and as I called Emergency 911, I knocked on his window again. He moved. I backed up. He opened his door and got out easily enough, but had a terrifying, dazed look in his eyes. I didn't say anything, and he didn't either.


He walked back and forth a few steps, then turned to look at me again, with that same dazed look. He stared at me, then lifted his left hand, pointing at the sky. He walked to the front of the schoolhouse, then came back around and went behind the Fellowship Hall.


Meanwhile, I was still on the phone with Emergency Services. A deputy sheriff drove in, asked where the driver went, and then jumped in his truck and went after him.


I started taking pictures.


Within a couple of minutes, the driveway was clogged with EMS, Fire trucks, and more sheriff's deputies. They found the young man, and EMS was quickly caring for him.


(Later, his dad, Andrew, showed up; I walked over to talk with him and ask about his son. He said that his son had a seizure, causing the accident. His son had apparently blacked out at the roundabout, driven directly across the curbed median, and slammed into the schoolhouse at full speed.)


I led the fireman to the electrical panel, where we shut everything down. Then we headed back to my classroom, where I handed out Arnold Palmer Iced Teas to firemen and deputies. Gathering a few essentials (my backpack, the computer for record-keeping) and quickly locking up the private permanent records for students, we exited the building and waited for the Sarasota County building inspector to arrive.


He made his inspection, then informed us that the building needs to be checked over for structural integrity by an engineer before anyone can re-enter the building. After posting his "Keep Out" sign, the firemen taped off the building and began assembling materials to reinforce the wall temporarily. When they finished their carpentry, Gary Y and Kendall C covered the hole with black plastic.


Inside the classroom, there is debris everywhere. Concrete blocks were blasted entirely across the room. Student offices were slammed so far that they hit the desk I was sitting at, pushing it sideways. The attic trapdoor had evidently dropped open by the force of the impact, because an item that lives in the attic was now on the table under the door.


What chaos! But both the driver and Mr. Jason are okay, thank God.


Please pray for Andrew and his son; this will require more changes in their lives, after already having been through heart-break recently.


I am planning to post updates here as repairs progress, so check back throughout the summer if you'd like to see what's happening with The Hole.

The Hole, part 2

May 29, 2024


Today is Wednesday, the day after.


At 10:00 this morning, the engineer, Mr. James (the white shirt), came to review the damage with Gary Y., and get the paperwork started for repairs. He did a thorough inspection and gave good direction for the next steps. A building contractor was also there (Mr. Miller) along with Daniel K. Besides the concrete block wall, there will be stucco work, drywall work, air conditioner work, plumbing work, carpet work, window work, painting, and other considerations including door damage, desk damage, etc.


There is a lot to do before August.

The Hole, part 3

May 31, 2024


Today is Friday, three days after.


Gary Y. reports that we now have the go-ahead to begin cleanup in preparation for beginning to rebuild and repair.


The first priority is to empty the Records Room, where all our Permanent Records are stored. The State of Florida requires that all pertinent school records be maintained in perpetuity. This means that, over the 52-year history of our school, there are lots of records. We need to get these files out of the Records Room to a secure facility.


The Records Room also houses lots of other items. There are parts for the swing set outside; there are boxes of tissues and trash bags; there are electrical extension cords, and hand sanitizer, and puzzles, and paint, and air conditioner filters, and yearbooks, and wasp spray, and Lego sets, and ant powder, and Picture Day hardware, and lots more things. It all has to be moved out, so repairs on the exterior wall can begin.


With no electricity in the building, there is no air conditioning, and no lights: the room is very warm, and dark.


It was a not-insubstantial job. Here are a few pictures.

The Hole, part 4

June 1, 2024


Today is Saturday, four days after. It seems much longer.


The school board, plus several others, had a work bee here this morning at 8:00. Two main objectives were achieved.


First, the rubble was cleaned up. The larger chunks were carried out by hand, and loaded into a dump trailer that was towed by Gary Y.'s truck. The smaller stuff was scooped up with shovels (Tim and Caleb Y.) and carried out in a trash barrel. The final treatment was Cameron C. using a Shop Vac to get most of the pebbly and dusty stuff. There are open wounds ripped into the carpet, where chunks of concrete block were hurled and smashed. But the space looks better than before!


Second, The Hole was boarded closed. Gary's carpentry skills did the trick, as he cut plywood to size and fastened it to the outside of The Hole using concrete screws, with some assistance by Reuben F.


Enchantingly, the Three Sisters showed up for a breakfast of corn. Sadly, however, they were minus one sister: Jemima was missing; only Jael and Jochebed showed up. They paid us a delightful visit, hanging around nearly the whole time we were there.


We are another small step closer.


The Hole, part 5

June 3 - 13, 2024


Over the last ten days, engineer's drawings were submitted, permits were pulled, and so the work begins!


Carlin Miller of Redi-Air pulled the air conditioner equipment inside and outside, to clear the way for work on the block wall.


Dillon Miller of Alvin Sommers Masonry got his crew started on removing and replacing the damaged block wall. By the end of the day on June 13, the new wall was in place.




One of our students used AI to write a song about this car wreck. Here are the instructions he gave to the AI song generator:


Write a Southern gospel song about a red mustang crashing into Sunnyside Mennonite school.


Here is the link to the song, if you want to hear it...


That's enough for today.

The Hole, part 6

June 14, 2024


After passing inspection this morning, drops were poured in the wall at noon today.


Tim Y and Caleb Y were getting the work done, pumping the concrete into the wall. Larry M and Justin M were on hand to do the finish, installing the steel anchor straps into the wet concrete at the top of the wall, to tie into the framing later.


These men are clearly professionals, and know what they're doing! They didn't waste any time, and it didn't take them long to get the job done.