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The bus that careened off Interstate 30 west of Benton in central Arkansas didn't have much to do with our state. Like millions of cars, buses and trucks every year, Arkansas was but a few hours of a journey between a place visited and home.

More than 63,000 vehicles, on average, pass through that part of the interstate every day, some of them going just a few miles between cities in Saline County. Interstate 30 is a fairly short interstate, running from Fort Worth to Little Rock, but it's busy. Many of the travelers journey along the entire stretch, then onward on Interstate 40 to Memphis and other locales east.

The Home of the Blues was the destination of that charter bus that crashed Monday, resulting in the death of 9-year-old Kameron Johnson of Memphis and injuries to others -- teammates and adult leaders -- who were part of football teams with the Orange Mound Youth Association.

What were they doing in Arkansas? Trying to get home from a youth football tournament in Dallas. Just another 2 1/2 hours to go and what for some of the youth represented a trip of a lifetime would have come to a successful conclusion.

But life is filled with detours and, we were reminded Monday with such tragic news, with unexpected ends to some journeys.

Yes, the kids and adults on that bus were just passing through. But in their moment of need, first responders moved quickly. Emergency crews did what they always do -- they risk themselves in caring for strangers, putting into action all that training most of us never give a second thought. In that moment of tragedy, the people on that bus were neighbors. Though they live elsewhere, in their time of need along a highway in this state, they were Arkansans.

We're forever grateful for our veterans and we're glad its become fashionable to thank them for their service. Let's add the people who respond in emergencies to those for whom we frequently express gratitude. We need them so desperately in times of trouble, and despite a culture that doesn't always recognize the level of commitment it takes to be a first responder, it's vital we recognize the value of the job they do.

Arkansans are mourning with all these young people in the loss of a teammate and friend. We are mindful that a community has had a shock to the system during this holiday season. They remain close to our hearts.

It's our prayer that those in the hospital make their journey home soon. And that we all keep in mind the heartbreaking loss of one family.

Commentary on 12/05/2018

Print Headline: Just passing through

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