In the spring of 1986, an event occurred which garnered national and international attention when the elementary school in Cokeville was taken hostage with a demand of $2 million for each child. The perpetrators kept rescue attempts at bay by controlling a bomb trigger that had the capacity to level a wing of the school and kill all 154 hostages.
In answer to the children’s prayers, just before the bomb’s detonation, children described angels descending through the ceiling. Several described the action and the conversation of the angels before the bomb went off — chiefly to warn them to move to escape avenues — and to assure them that they were loved and would be protected. These children described the brightness of the angels and were later able to identify their individual angels in old family photo albums.
Divine intervention occurred when the bomb was accidentally detonated, but only the first phase activated, a gasoline bomb set off by blasting caps. A fireball shot straight up then spread in all directions. The children had been trained in fire drills to evacuate a dangerous area with the children all out in about 45 seconds. The floor was soon ablaze with smoke, and the smoke was as thick as cotton. Many of the escapees were blackened by the smoke. They escaped out of windows and doors to the hallways — some with hair ablaze, some with serious burns. Seventy-nine children were hospitalized overnight with smoke inhalation and flesh burns. Some required long-term medical attention and some healed quickly, but many did not require medical attention. Ambulances and EMT were available immediately , and children were immediately shuttled to hospitals in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. The heat in the room became intense, melting plastic and setting off shrapnel from scattered cartridges.
Investigators and bomb technicians unanimously agreed that the saving of the children was miraculous. Wires cut to the second stage of the bomb, leakage of gasoline that made powdered metals and flour a paste, a first stage explosion that sent a fireball straight up instead of in all directions. (Children said angels encircled the bomb prior to its explosion.) There was no explosion from the powdered materials, and a quick evacuation saved the hostages from flying shrapnel and many other elements. The reduction of perpetrators from six to two simplified the scheme.
The bomb explosion set one of the perpetrators afire; her husband came out of the children’s restroom, saw her condition, shot her, then retreated to the restroom and shot himself.
A grateful community recognizes the miraculous survival of all the hostages and the death of the perpetrators in a frightening event that could have killed them all. It credits the children’s prayers as a major factor in their survival. A memorial to the intervention of angels and the survival of a generation of children is appropriate. The planned memorial will acknowledge the heroics of teachers and parents and the assistance of firemen, ambulances, lawmen, bomb experts, psychologists, hospitals and staff and the concern and assistance of our nation’s citizens.
The planned memorial will acknowledge the hostages’ rescue with statuary, murals, survivor testimony, press documents, tours, books and film. The experience may change some visitors’ lives. An architectural rendering is being created for the memorial — the heroes and heavenly agents who preserved the children on that dreadful day. There will be cards, books, miniature statuary, film and other appropriate items for sale. We intend to put the memorial next to the busy Highway US 30 near the town of Cokeville in western Wyoming.
The implications of this well-documented event are universal — the testimony of the angels’ intervention, their presence, their directions, their description and the common agreement of the investigators that miracles saved those hostages has no argument among those present.
Cokeville witnesses would be quick to note that the circumstances of other tragedies from school attacks affected their outcomes. The armed readiness of the attackers to commence firing upon building entry varies sharply from Cokeville’s, where each live child was valued at $2 million in ransom.
The sponsor, with like-minded people, believes it is in the nation’s interest to preserve the knowledge of heaven’s intervention to save the 130 children (as well as 24 teachers and assorted visitors) and appropriately memorialize the event. We are asking for your support to create funding and national support for this great cause.