BATH, Mich. – 85 years have passed since the Bath School disaster. However, memories remain.
The cupola that sat on top of the school that exploded now sits in a park as a memorial.
“My father was involved in the disaster when he was 11 years old,” Dean Sweet Jr. said.
He recalls the Bath School massacre which occurred May 18, 1927.
It’s the day Andrew Kehoe, a disgruntled school board treasurer, backed his car up to Bath Consolidated School and set off explosives. He was upset over high taxes.
The blasts killed 38 children and four adults. Kehoe bombed his farm, killing his wife before doing heading to the school. Dozens of others were injured, including Dean Sweet Sr.
“He was one of the last students pulled out of the wreckage before the main wall fell in,” Sweet said. His father spent the next few months in the hospital. “[Doctors] didn’t expect him to live,” Sweet said.
However, he pulled through. Sweet said it took his father years to talk about the massacre.
Much of what`s known today is found inside Bath Middle School at the museum which Sweet oversees. It`s filled with artifacts from that tragic day.
Author Arnie Bernstein also documented the Bath massacre in his book. In an interview, he drew similarities between the Bath tragedy and the most recent in Connecticut.
“There`s a teacher at Bath. Her name is Hazel Weatherby. She`s 21 years old and in the rubble, they found her. She had a child in each of her arms,” Bernstein explained.
“Both children were dead, but she was barely alive herself and when the rescuers came, she handed over the children to him and then she gave in to death and it reminded me so much of the Vicky Soto story, the teacher instinct – protect your children,” he said.
Police said Vicky Soto died in the Sandy Hook shooting trying to shield her students from the gunman`s bullets. In times of tragedy the community is left wondering why this had to happen.
“People want to know what`s the why. Why did he do it? Why did Andrew Kehoe do what he did? Why did this kid in Connecticut do what he did and the frustrating and sad thing is, there is no why. It`s classic psychopathic behavior where the motivation is only known by the perpetrator,” Bernstein said.
“There`s so many more good people than there are these kinds of people,” he said.
Sweet said, “If something like that would come on the TV, [my father would] sit and cry. ‘Cause he remembered so much about what he went through and the people that went through it, they remember it like it was yesterday, ya know.”
“One of the reasons that I`m still in the community and doing what I`m doing in the community for the museum is in remembrance of those kids that it happened to. And I just pray that what happened last week, they can be remembered 85 years from now,” Sweet said.