Three Columbine survivors: An update
April 18, 2009
Crystal Woodman Miller was a 16-year-old who went to the Columbine library on her lunch hour on April 20, 1999, to study for a test. Popping sounds erupted.
Woodman Miller saw a friend holding her shoulder, blood soaking through her T-shirt. She crawled underneath a table, where Seth Houy wrapped his arms around her and said, “Crystal, I promise I would take a bullet for you.”
“The next seven and a half minutes … felt like an eternity,” she recalled.
Woodman Miller prayed as the gunmen scattered shots, killing 10. They left for more ammunition, and she, Houy and Houy’s sister, Sara, ran for an exit.
“The days, weeks, months to follow were some of the darkest, most difficult days,” she said, recalling the funerals and the blanket media coverage.
Every night for two years, Woodman Miller had nightmares about violence, kidnapping, rape.
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“I was afraid to close my eyes because I knew the nightmares were coming,” she said. To this day, she is careful about what she watches on television because the nightmares return occasionally.
Woodman Miller has spent much of her life since traveling the world to talk with survivors of other shootings and to do humanitarian relief work. She wrote a book, “Marked for Life,” and is working on a documentary about Columbine and survivors of violence.
“That common bond we share in suffering … we understand each other like nobody else can,” she said.
Woodman Miller has been married for six years to Pete Miller, whom she met in college. They live in Edmond, Okla.
Mohrbacher and her classmates fled from a math class when fire alarms sounded. They watched Columbine unfold on television at a nearby home. She saw her sister, Kim, as she left the school while her brother, Dan, was in one of the last classes to be rescued hours later.
“It was like a roller coaster ride (for the family),” she said. “My mom, still to this day, she’ll tell you about how guilty she feels that she had three kids in the school and got all three back where parents had one child in the school and didn’t get their one child back.”
Mohrbacher said some former classmates have sought out public roles to promote school safety and youth violence prevention. “I think that also helped a lot of people with their healing processes, to make it so it felt like it mattered and had a positive effect,” she said.
Mohrbacher, 26, is pursuing a journalism degree at the University of Colorado, working for a public relations company and maintaining a blog for Columbine survivors.
Scott was in the Columbine library, where he saw two friends killed by the gunmen. He joined students fleeing when the killers left for a short time. He helped a female student who had been shot. His sister, Rachel, was killed outside the school.
Scott, 26, is a public speaker for Rachel’s Challenge, a nonprofit foundation started by his father, Darrell Scott, that promotes kindness and compassion. It is based on his late sister’s life and diary entries.
“I’m doing well 10 years later,” Scott said. “It’s not just a tragedy but getting through the initial years after the shooting and … coming out on the other side as a stronger person.
“I know a few people that are still been negatively affected,” he said. “Most of my friends, I feel like, have dealt with it in their own way.”