University offers trauma counseling after school choir survives fiery crash

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Oakwood University is offering trauma counseling to school choir members who were involved in a fiery bus crash over the weekend.

The Oakwood University Aeolians choir returned to Huntsville late Tuesday night. Some of them are preparing for graduation this upcoming weekend. But mental and spiritual counseling staff members want to make sure they’re in the right headspace before the semester ends.

“My thought was these are someone’s babies, are the babies okay?” said Kimberly Mann an Oakwood University chaplain. “They’re our choir and they travel around the world and they sing, but when something happens, those are our kids.”

Oakwood’s Health and Counseling Center is offering massages, quiet aromatherapy rooms and counseling to the affected students.

“We like to process things inwardly. And then we think that we’ve solved it because we’ve dealt with it inwardly,” explained John Ruffin, a university counselor. “But still have the aftermath of the stress on us.”

Oakwood staff say the aftermath will be different for everyone involved.

“Each student will respond differently. Some may not experience any flashbacks, insomnia. They won’t experience that but some will,” added Grace Arnold, a university counselor. “So what we do is just call them in, have them sit down and just go through the process with them. Have them debrief.”

The campus community is just grateful its students made it back home.

“There must’ve been a powerful hand guiding the students because they were able to escape. Even though there was a loss of life it could’ve been a lot worse once you look at the damage that happened,” said Ruffin.

While some of the members will go on and continue to sing, Mann said she hopes this unfortunate incident becomes a testimony.

“My prayer is that they know no matter where they go, that there’s a God who loves them, who’s watching over them, who cares for them and spares them.”

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