Unsung Hero: Marion Helps Stranded Bus Passengers

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By Ashley Smith
By Josue

MARION --  After a group of 40 passengers were stranded in Marion because their bus caught fire, the community came together to help them.

"It was a very warming experience to be able to help them," said Heartland Regional Medical Center Emergency Room Manager Amanda Throgmorton.

Amanda Throgmorton  was working in the ER when 40 passengers from a charter bus were brought to Heartland Regional Medical Center last week.

The bus caught fire on I-57 near the Marion exit on Jan. 6. The passengers were left in the record cold after escaping the fire.

The travelers had been on the bus for several days riding from Mexico to Chicago.

Four people suffered minor injuries but everyone was transported to the hospital to stay warm.

"Here at the hospital everyone pitched in no matter what department they're in. They stopped and made their own phone calls to their own resources," said HRMC Director of Marketing Jennifer Lee.

Another bus wasn't available to pick up the stranded passengers. That meant they would likely be staying overnight until other arrangements could be made.

After making a few calls, Pastor John Holst at Zion United Church of Christ said the stranded people could keep warm at his church.

"I think all of us as churches are surprised with what God places before us but I'm never surprised by the response of my congregation that I get to serve but also the other congregations," said Zion United Church of Christ Reverened John Holst.

Not only did the church offer help, many local businesses donated food and water while the group stayed in town. Little Ceaser's. McDonald's, Kroger, Rural King, and other businesses piched in to help. The following day Enterprise Rental Cars and Rides Mass Transit assisted in arranging transportation for the group to get home.

"I just want to thank those businesses who wandered over to Zion and said is there anything we can bring and they did it," said Rev. Holst.

Despite being stranded in an unfamiliar place in the bitter cold, the entire group was thankful for all they received.

"They were very appreciative, they were constantly saying thank you throughout the whole thing," said Amanda. 

"I don't think I've ever met a group of more appreciative people and they were so grateful," said Jennifer.

On a day when Mother Nature was at her worst, the community came together to show their best.

Marion Regional
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