As most of you probably already know, on June 11, 2010 there was quite a tragic event that happened in Eagar, Arizona. A small plane carrying a family of four, the Ulrich family, crashed into Round Valley High School. There were no survivors. I can only imagine what their family is feeling. It’s not something i rather want to imagine. Loosing four of my family members in one brief crash.
This is what a newspaper in Tampa Bay has to say about it:
A third of Round Valley High School is gone after a plane, carrying a family of four, crashed into it Friday afternoon. The school is in the town of Eagar, Ariz., 15 miles west of the New Mexico border, on the slopes of the White Mountains. This is not just a school — it’s the school, teaching 500 students from Eagar, Springerville and other small towns in this rural area.
People here aren’t worried about rebuilding.
They are mourning.
The family who died — Jeffrey Ulrich, 50; his wife, Ronni, 47; and daughters Alexa, 15 and Carlie, 5 — were strangers who lived nearly 2,000 miles away in Wesley Chapel. Yet the people of Eagar are grieving, leaving flowers and candles, homemade signs and teddy bears at the school gates.
More than 200 people held a vigil Monday night. Students plan to create a college scholarship in Alexa’s name. The town wants to hold another vigil Friday and is talking of creating a permanent memorial.
“Not a soul is worried about the school or their classrooms or what’s going to happen,” said Karen Warnick, 58, who covers Eagar, Springerville and the other nearby towns for the White Mountain Independent.
Her office windows rattled when the plane crashed. She was on scene within minutes, along with hundreds of residents who ran to see what happened. So many people were on their cell phones that service, usually spotty, shut down.
No one on the ground was hurt. Normally, students would have been inside, but budget cuts eliminated summer school this year. Last week the board decided to give staff Fridays off. The day of the crash was their first.
Warnick said most people at the scene were silent, in shock and now, days later, still crying.
“We are worried about them and their family — not our school,” she said.
Mike Hogan, 50, is the chief of the Eagar Police Department, which has 10 officers. Springerville has nine. Together, the towns have about 7,000 residents — many ranchers, power plant and timber workers. The school system is a main employer.
Hogan and his officers held a procession Tuesday afternoon to lay flowers at the school grounds, in honor of Ulrich — who was a special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — and his family.
“Please tell the rest of the family we are sorry for their loss,” Hogan said.
Authorities are still investigating the crash, and it may be months before they determine what went wrong. The crash happened shortly after the plane took off from an airstrip in Springerville. Sgt. Richard Guinn of the Apache County Sheriff’s Office said it appears Jeffrey Ulrich was attempting to gain altitude when the plane hit a light post and a tree, then crashed into the two-story school.
Ulrich was a pilot with more than 20 years experience. The family was heading west on a vacation to the Grand Canyon.
Eastern Arizona residents have reached out online through a Facebook page created in memory of Alexa, who just finished her sophomore year at Wiregrass Ranch High School. Her friend Jack Whidden, an 18-year-old recent graduate of Wiregrass Ranch, has been writing back to these kind strangers who send messages of condolences.
“I’m blown away,” Whidden said. “A small town who just had their high school destroyed is having a vigil for a family they’ve never met who lived thousands of miles away.
“Round Valley has got to be the nicest area in America.”
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy and the Associated Press contributed to this story. Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.
There were many newspapers that wrote about this tragedy. There was a video put up on youtube in memory of Alexa Ulrich, who was my age. A facebook page put up in memory of the family.
I can only imagine what the rest of their family is now going through.
Being in my high schools orchestra, i’ve been around the state going to other high schools for festivals and performances. I’ve been to Eager. Been in Round Valley High School. It’s such a nice little town. It was only a few months ago that i was in Round Valley for Regional Orchestra. Now it feels like it was just yesterday. And looking at this picture:
Just makes what happened seem even more real. And i’m finding that what happens kind of hits rather close to home.
Through all of this, the citizens of Eager and the surrounding areas are not at all worried about the damage to their school. They are worried about the Ulrich family. A family they did not even know.
I’ve walked the hallways of Round Valley High School. I’ve played in that same grass that is seen in the picture posted above. I’ve had fun performing in their super nice auditorium with a bunch of other musicians. I made some great memories at Round Valley High School. But you know what. . I’m not worried about the losses to the school either. I’m worried about that family.
The most damage was done to the High School’s administration offices, eight classrooms and two bathrooms. The classrooms affected were the art room, special education room, NAVIT, the academic decathlon room, the records room and several others that aren’t in constant use. There is smoke and water damage to seven other rooms and some water damage to the carpets in the library. The fire had started to burn the edges of the library room, but Udall said that without the help of the other fire departments it could have been much worse.
The computer lab was saved from major damage by a fire wall, though there is some smoke damage. The kitchen, multipurpose/cafeteria room and the choir room all survived with little damage.
I know what tragedy feels like. But it’s never been to that extreme. To loose four members of your family all in the same quick plane crash. In a town 2,000 miles away from home at that! I can only imagine. And although this has been a couple weeks ago, my thoughts and prayers will still go out for the Ulrich family.
If you want to read more about this tragedy here are some links to articles and to the youtube and facebook pages i mentioned earlier :
And after all of that. I’m not sure how to end this post.
All i can say is to please, please keep the Ulrich family in your thoughts and prayers.