Tragedy at Texas A&M: 12 students die in bonfire construction accident

Classmates, families and friends gathered in churches yesterday, quietly sobbing and praying for the 12 people who died when a four-story pyramid of logs collapsed at Texas A&M University. At A&M United Methodist Church, a youth minister recited the names of the dead and a man and a woman lit 12 small white candles. “The spirit of Aggieland is great,” Senior Pastor Charles Anderson told the congregation, “but the spirit of Aggieland is not enough.”

Thousands of people attended three funerals and countless church services across the state yesterday to honor the fallen Aggies.

Eleven of them died during Thursday’s collapse, and one died the following night at St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan.

Local, state and federal officials planned to meet today to plan an investigation strategy. But Anderson said the answers would do little to comfort those left behind.

“Answers won’t hold your hand. Answers won’t cry with you. Answers won’t pray with you,” he said. “Answers won’t hold you in their arms, and answers will not sit by your bedside on a sleepless night.”

Gov. George W. Bush was one of about 1800 people who attended a memorial service yesterday evening at the Central Baptist Church in Bryan. A somber Bush entered the large red brick church and signed the guest books of all 12 victims.

“I’m here to help the Aggie family from what has been a tragic situation in the state of Texas,” Bush said.

Bush did not speak at the service but stood and waved to the crowd when he was introduced and afterward shook hands and hugged the victims’ relatives. He said he had not been to the accident site but planned to visit on Thanksgiving.

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