“Cokeville Trying to Rebuild A Normal and Secure Life.”. “I felt deep peace. “I remember thinking, ‘David Young can control a lot of things, but he can’t keep us from praying. In addition, national reporters began arriving within hours of the explosion. In the days and weeks immediately after this event, most accounts focused on the horrors of the day. Other children also gave accounts of heavenly intervention, and in the months after the bombing, more of them were able to identify ancestors who helped keep them safe on the day of the crisis. Once all the hostages were contained in the first grade classroom, David Young informed them that they were leading a revolution and distributed copies of his philosophy Zero Equals Infinity to everyone present. “I began to wonder, ‘What happens if I die today? Furthermore, the explosive powder that should have lit the air on fire had been miraculously hindered from its deadly purpose, thanks to the leaking gasoline. “Many of the extras in the film are children of those who were students at the time the bomb went off,” Christensen explains. Doris accidently triggered the bomb by motioning to her hostages with her arms. Upon entering the classroom, children saw an arsenal of weapons, a grocery cart and an unfamiliar man—David Young. See what's new with book lending at the Internet Archive. And he demanded a ransom of $2 million per child. But even they have no doubt that miracles occurred. He told us he had to tell his friends he was going to sit with us, and he would be right back. David’s writings reveal that he hoped life would be better for him and Cokeville’s children in this imaginary place. Directed by T.C. While David and Doris Young were not involved in an organized religion, both were deeply spiritual. WITNESS TO MIRACLES, Remembering the Cokeville Elementary School Bombing “My hair and eyelashes were gone. In an effort to keep the children away from him, teachers used masking. I flipped to one page when suddenly he put his little hand on a photo and just beamed,” Hartley shares. Williams’s skin began to heal at a rapid rate, and despite the severe burns, no scar tissue formed. “I asked what grade this particular woman had taught and why she quit teaching after the bombing. (David, upon finding Doris engulfed in flames after the explosion, shot her before taking his own life.). While looking through a family album with her grandmother, Johnson stopped at a familiar face. 30th Anniversary: 2016. David saw John Miller, the music teacher, trying to escape and shot him in the back. Investigators discovered that wires to three of the bomb’s five blasting caps had been mysteriously cut, preventing detonation. I got to talk to a Cokeville bombing survivor … On May 16, 1986, former town marshal David Young and his wife Doris Young took 167 children and adults hostage at Cokeville Elementary School. Williams was baptized on August 16, 1989—her 14th birthday. Shortly after their wedding, David and Doris left Cokeville and headed to Tucson, Ariz. During their time in Tucson, according to Doris’ daughter Bernie Petersen, David became increasingly reclusive, focusing on his philosophical readings and writings. My mom then told us that she was her mom—our grandma who had died when my mom was 15 years old.”, Jennie Sorensen Johnson, a first-grade survivor, had a similar experience. Young met his second wife, Doris Waters, while in Cokeville. But for Williams, her healing was not the greatest miracle she experienced. She is a trained rural historian who specializes in oral history, childhood history and memory studies. For the first time, I remember thinking, ‘I’m safe.’ It’s something I will never forget.”, Despite the explosion, all students and staff made it out alive; only David Young and his wife perished. Williams recalls, “When I got to the hallway, I felt a tickling sensation on my shoulder and ear. I said, ‘I don’t know where my children are! At that time, about 500 people lived in Cokeville, and there were slightly more than 100 students attending the elementary school. The Youngs both died that day. In the days after the bombing, more astonishing evidence came to light. Young, a former Cokeville town marshall fired for misconduct years earlier, had returned to start a revolution and create a “brave new world” where he would be leader. Christensen. “I remember that same feeling I felt in the classroom when I prayed,” she recalls. David, who dared not risk their reporting him to the authorities, responded by holding them at gunpoint. “I explained that she was the teacher who led me out when the bomb went off. “All the nurses cried as they cleaned my wounds,” she says, “and the doctor was talking to my parents about skin grafts and plastic surgery.”. “Another teacher was trying to help me escape. Alleged Nashville explosion CCTV footage “Children were able to see those who had passed on.”. Inside stood David Young, a string detonator around his wrist and a homemade bomb by his side. You need to listen to your brother and remember that I will always love you.’ I remember just nodding my head. 154 of us were held hostage for almost 3 hours in a 30x32 room when the bomb actually detonated - all 154 hostages survived. For David’s long-time friends Gerald Deppe and Doyle Menenhall, his treatise manifested as a get-rich-quick plan that he called “The Biggie.” Young, a former Cokeville town marshall fired for misconduct years earlier, had returned to start a revolution and create a “brave new world” where he would be leader. Jessica Clark, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of history and political science at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, Wyo. With no real reason to question Doris, Williams’s class made its way down the eerily silent hallway and into the 30-by-32-foot room where the rest of the school was being held—154 people in all. It became a story of a miracle rather than a tragedy. I don’t know why—I can’t explain it.’”. The source code for the WIKI 2 extension is being checked by specialists of the Mozilla Foundation, Google, and Apple. And, then, shortly after 4 p.m., the bomb exploded. I didn’t even know where to go or what to do.” Conger continues, “I found my older brother pretty quickly, and we just started walking toward our home. Just better. On that Friday afternoon in their quiet, rural town, a deranged couple entered the community’s elementary school, took those inside hostage and detonated a bomb in a first grade classroom. “When he said that, it lined up with the physical evidence. Kamron Wixom recognizes the courage of his fellow survivors for sharing their sacred experiences at the risk of ridicule and suffering emotionally by revisiting such traumatic experiences that took place the day of the Cokeville miracle. T.C. Cokeville Elementary School is located at 205 N. Sage St. in Cokeville. Experience the powerful true story of  The Cokeville Miracle for yourself. Williams, who was severely burned in the explosion, did not see angels that day either, but she experienced a different kind of miracle after being rushed to the hospital. To install click the Add extension button. My face was completely unrecognizable,” she recalls. Sept. 21, 2010. Survivors shared their stories with each other, investigators, family members, and hospital personnel. In case you missed it: Top LDS Living articles from this week, Why Eve is the heroine of the human family rather than a perpetrator of great catastrophe, Fiona and Terryl Givens explain, MLB draft pick and Vanderbilt baseball player reflects on serving under mission president and former MLB pitcher Jeremy Guthrie, Sweetest moments from the Friend to Friend, an apostle speaks to young adults in French, and more ministering to the youth this week, ‘We’re hoping and praying for the best’: Latter-day Saints in Florida continue search for missing BYU-Idaho graduate, $20 million Church donation to aid UNICEF’s campaign for 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines, 7 reasons you don't want to miss RootsTech 2021, 3 lessons one young mother was reminded of while watching the Friend to Friend event, Latter-day Saint composer Rob Gardner reflects on inspiration behind Easter oratorio ‘Lamb of God’, Miracles,Angels,Faith,Makes You Think Mormon Life, ©2021 LDS Living, A Division of Deseret Book Company. This narrative was perpetuated in many publications and productions. Will I see my family again?’ I was really scared for the unknown. On May 16, 1986, he and his wife, Doris, invaded a classroom at Cokeville Elementary School and held 136 children and 17 teachers hostage with a crudely built homemade bomb. The feeling [after the prayer] was one of total confidence that we had just placed our lives in the hands of our loving Heavenly Father,” he recalls. Because Christensen’s faith-promoting film is based on actual events, Christensen wanted it to be both authentic and accurate. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the bombing, a group called the Cokeville Miracle Foundation has compiled a 500-page book full of reminiscences written by many of the people who lived through that day: teachers, parents, emergency workers, the child hostages who are now all grown up. “Cokeville Children Held Hostage by Bomber.”, “Cokeville Elementary School Bombing: 25-Years Later.” Accessed May 17, 2013, at, Fagg, Ellen. WyoHistory.org welcomes the support of the following sponsors. Skip to main content. She didn’t tell me her name, but I think it was Grandma Meister.’ This was exactly what I was looking for. It was in their Tucson home that David came up with what he considered “the Biggie,” a plan to get rich quick and create a “Brave New World.” This plan involved David’s longtime friends, Gerald Deppe and Doyle Mendenhall, who believed by investing in David’s scheme they would get rich. “I kept telling my parents about the lady who had talked to me and that I didn’t know who she was,” she recalls. Kameron Wixom, son of Hartt and Judene Wixom, writes a “childlike faith saved us.”  In his contribution to the Witness to Miracles book, Kameron writes: “I didn’t have to see angels, hear them, or even think that their presence might be required that day. She says only a miracle saved the 136 children and 18 adults that were held hostage. “When my son saw that picture, he just brightened up and said, ‘That’s her! I don’t know why, but I am grateful.”. For instance, The Cokeville Miracle Foundation’s 2005 book Witness to Miracles: Remembering the Cokeville Elementary School Bombing and the Wyoming State Archives oral history project called “Survivor is My Name” both focused on the reconstructing of this narrative as a miracle instead of a tragedy. “It would not have been fair to portray this as an LDS-specific miracle.”. tape to create a “magic square” around the bomb and then instructed the children to stay outside of it. Video: survivors of cokeville school bombing play extras in movie about itBy: lschenckerPublished on: June 20, 2014Source: http://www.tout.com/m/z3zeye “The way those witnesses all came out, each very independent of each other, is proof enough.” Conger agrees. I got a chance to talk to Jennie Sorensen Johnson, who was seven when David Young rolled a bomb into her first grade classroom. That bomb should have leveled the wing of this school, but it looks like the bomb blast went straight up. Located in Lincoln County and nestled between the towns of Star Valley and Kemmerer on the Wyoming-Idaho border, Cokeville, many residents believed, was a safe place to rear children. Wielding a homemade bomb and several guns, the Youngs took staff members hostage as they made their way to the first-grade classroom. Over time, her skin healed completely, and today she carries no scars from the events of that day. “I don’t remember her saying anything to me, but I trusted and followed her out of the burning room. “Cokeville Recollects ‘Miracle’ of 1986: Hostage Survivors, Town Residents Compile Book, ________. “Kneeling, we bowed our heads and folded our arms. When Deppe and Mendenhall finally got wind of his plans moments before the hostage crisis unfolded, they refused to participate. Quite the same Wikipedia. They increasingly spoke about their memories in public with professional psychologists, church officials and community counselors. He believed the school was actually brainwashing the children and demanded two million dollars for each of them. I looked in the center of the room and all I could see was fire.”, “There were flames all over the room and children screaming—just pandemonium,” recalls Carol Petersen, a second grade teacher at the time. The Cokeville Elementary School hostage crisis occurred on Friday, May 16, 1986, in Cokeville, Wyoming, United States, when former town marshal David Young, 43, and his wife Doris Young, 47, took 136 children and 18 adults hostage at Cokeville Elementary School. “I knew this was an amazing story, and one I felt like I needed to tell,” he says. 4.6 out of 5 stars 3. “There are so many people—about 30 of them—who stand as witnesses to the spiritual blessings that happened that day.”. “The Power of Faith: 25 Years After School Bombing, Town Remembers Story of Survival.”, Mitchell, Ruth Ann. Most of the kids in my class were LDS, but I wasn’t,” Williams says. I’ll never forget that reunion when she ran toward us and wrapped us in her arms. Ambulances, fire trucks, and news cameras lined the streets. Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Lori Conger and Kamron Wixom, two survivors of the Cokeville Elementary School hostage crisis in 1986, pose in … The film was based on the Cokeville Elementary School hostage crisis in 1986 and the book The Cokeville Miracle: When Angels Intervene by Hartt Wixom and Judene Wixom. Because they refused to participate, Princess, Deppe, and Mendenhall were never charged in relation to this crime. That’s one thing he cannot do,’” she says. She was a divorcée who earned money working as a waitress and singer in a local bar. Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources, Cheyenne. Students, teachers, visitors, staff who survived the ordeal and bystanders began recounting their memories of this event as it was still unfolding. The Cokeville Town Hall is located at 110 Pine St. For more information, visit the website of the Cokeville Chamber of Commerce at http://www.cokevillewy.com or call (307) 459-4195. “The magic of T.C.’s vision is that it’s a film for everyone,” adds actor Shawn Stevens, who plays the character of ecclesiastical leader John Teichert in the film. Eventually, Young stepped away to the restroom, leaving the bomb detonator tied to Doris’s wrist. Survivors from the original hostage situation have gone there and have found healing. “I saw bodies all over the lawn, and I didn’t know if they were dead or alive,” recalls Conger. Frantic parents, gathered behind police barricades, cried out for their children as police officers ran toward the school. I turned around once to go back for a shoe that had come off when I was trying to escape, but she motioned for me to keep coming through the bathroom entryway, and I followed.”. Number of witnesses claiming angelic visions: 8 Soon two teachers ran to her aid and slapped the flames out with their bare hands. Another fifth grader, Lori Nate Conger, also prayed with some of her classmates. She’d been dead for three or four years.”. None of the children were hit, but Miller was shot in the back as he helped others out of the burning school. Kamron Wixom. Many people, even survivors of the attack, have claimed that the incredible good fortune of the day must have been the result of angels intervening to save the lives of the hostages. I was one of 154 survivors in the Cokeville bombing, ask me anything between 1-2 pm My name is Kamron Wixom, I was a 12 year old 6th grader in 1986 when a mad man took over my school (Cokeville Elementary) with a bomb and his guns. According to survivor accounts, Doris enticed many into the first grade room by announcing that their presence was required for a school assembly.