SIOUX CITY, Iowa — In the days following the crash of United Flight 232, Briar Cliff University served as a "home away from home" for survivors and their out-of-town family members. On Saturday, July 19, many of them again walked the campus.
It’s been years since many of the survivors have been back on campus, but after a quarter century, the place still houses many memories.
If you take a walk around Briar Cliff University, it looks like an ordinary college campus, but in the days following the 232 tragedy, it took on a much different feel.
“... they needed to ask questions of God, and this is where they found that refuge.”
— Jim Wharton, on Flight 232 victims and family members who were sheltered at Briar Cliff
"We had first the people who were not seriously injured, who stayed here, until they returned home, then we had people who were waiting to identify bodies. We really became a united command center for about a week,” says former Briar Cliff President, Sister Margaret Wick.
Amid the chaos and confusion that followed the crash, Our Lady of Grace Chapel offered some solitude to the hundreds of people arriving on campus. Just as in 1989, the chapel offers healing today.
"A number of people who were with us during those days spent the majority of their time in this chapel. Obviously, what they've gone through was terribly traumatic and I think they needed to ask questions of God, and this is where they found that refuge,” said Jim Wharton, former Briar Cliff PR Director.
MORE FLIGHT 232 COVERAGE:
SIOUX CITY JOURNAL: Flight 232 crash changed Sioux City responders' lives »
CATHOLIC GLOBE: 232 crash stirs vivid memories, 25 years later »