Jul 29, 2014

It Is a Day That Will Never Be Forgotten

A look at the infamous day through the eyes of a mother, simply looking to protect her son.

It Is a Day That Will Never Be Forgotten

It is a day that will never be forgotten, like a bad nightmare brought to life. I was doing patient rounds at Grossmont Hospital, when I was paged overhead to call the operator. The operator transferred a call to me and it was one of my close friends stating “Kathy, there has been a shooting at Santana and I heard some students have been killed and injured.” It was as if the blood drained from my body and all I could think of was, "Is my son one of the victims?" As he was a freshmen at Santana.

As I ran for the hospital parking structure, I could see doctors running for the emergency room and them yelling, "we have several shooting victims coming in, all triage physicians report to ER.”  I couldn’t get out of the parking structure fast enough and though the drive to Santana was only a 12 minute drive, it seemed like it took hours to get there. 

As I was driving, I called my husband and everyone I knew in the area and pleaded for them to help me find my son. I approached Mission Gorge and Magnolia and a Sheriff pulled up on side of me, and in my panic and tearful voice, I asked him if it was true that some students had been killed and he nodded, yes. The Sheriff warned me that I would not be able to park any closer than Mast and Magnolia. 

When I approached Braverman and Magnolia, it was so unreal, Sherriff cars, ambulances, fire trucks, paramedics, media vehicles and so many helicopters; it was amazing that they didn’t fly into each other. I parked on the side of Magnolia and Mast, not caring if parking was allowed, all I cared about was finding my son. I ran like I had never ran before, yelling out my son’s name, over and over. All of us parents kept asking each other, if we had seen our children. It was true chaos and all of us having one agenda, to find our child, alive and unharmed. 

I was one of the lucky ones, even though if felt like eternity, I found my son within 20 minutes of arriving. We held each other and cried, I was never going to let him go, the thought of losing my baby. We tried to help the other parents find their children but as time passed, you could see there was an area for the children that had been injured. Your heart just broke, how did this happen, especially in Santee, such . 

I never asked my son while we were there, what had happened, it seemed so unimportant. All that mattered was rejoining parents and their children. The emergency help was asking for those that had reconnected to please leave the area, so those that had not reconnected would have an easier chance, with less people. I will never forget the faces of fear, panic, praying, and helpless looks of parents and children.

The days after seemed like they would never end and the media made sure to remind us of what had happened, like we could have forgotten. I know it is the media’s job to report but and all the Santee residents wanted to do was to pay their respects and try to comfort each other, without outsiders.

The Santee retail businesses were absolutely amazing with all of their donations.  I could never express all of my gratitude to the Teachers, Santana Staff, Sheriffs, Firefighters, Paramedics, and outside law enforcement for the amazing job they did.  This situation could have been so much worse, without them.

Could this of been prevented? Yes, but who could of stopped it? The father that knew his son was disturbed and felt lonely? The bullies that relentlessly bullied Andy, and challenged his threats?  Andy’s so called friends, that challenged his threat but thought he would not go through with them? The school system that should be more aware of the mental aspects of their students? We could look to blame many, but it really comes down to, that this 15 year old child, chose to place the gun in his hand and shoot to kill.

If we learn anything from that day is that we must stop children from bullying. We must talk to our children and do our best to know what is going on in their life and what they are thinking.

If you would like to share a story, pictures, memories or anything else remembering the Santana shooting, please send them to steven.bartholow@patch.com, or upload them here.

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