Couple on Scene of Bus-Train Crash at State of the Union

A Google Map view of the railroad crossing near Larimore, North Dakota where the Jan. 5 collision occurred. A Google Map view of the railroad crossing near Larimore, North Dakota where the Jan. 5 collision occurred.

The North Dakota couple who were the first to arrive on scene of the fatal school bus-train collision in Larimore on Jan. 5 attended President Obama's State of the Union Tuesday as guests of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp.

Susan and Richard Lunski are residents of Larimore and live less than 100 yards from the train tracks where the incident occurred. Bus driver Max Danner, 62, and high school student Cassidy Sandstrom, 17, were killed and 12 students were injured when a BSNF train collided with their school bus. Authorities were still investigating the cause.

Heitkamp said the Lunskis heard the collision and saw the wreckage from their front door. They immediately ran to help.

"We did what anyone else would have done in such a terrible situation," said the Lunskis in a joint statement. "We're hoping the trip to Washington will help our town continue to come together to make Larimore strong. We are one community bonded by our strength, compassion, and resilience, and we will heal together."

Their story moved Heitkamp so much, she added, that she chose to invite the couple to Washington, D.C., as each senator and congressional member receives one ticket for a guest to attend the State of the Union each year. Minnesota Rep. Colliln Peterson donated his extra ticket so both Richard and Susan could attend together.

"They didn't hesitate ... Thank goodness we have people like the Lunskis in our communities who do amazing things for others just out of the kindness of their hearts," added Heitkamp. "It's a true honor to have the Lunskis as my guests to the State of the Union address."

While in the Nation's Capitol, the Lunskis will tour the East Wing of the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress and the National Museum of the American Indian while also visiting Arlington National Cemetery and the Washington National Cathedral.

Last modified onWednesday, 21 January 2015 13:25