KATY (FOX 26) - The fatal balloon crash near Lockhart July 30th hits the community of Katy particularly hard, especially at a popular daycare facility. Not only did one beloved teacher die in the tragedy, two of teachers at Tiger Land Day Care have suddenly lost their mothers.
The balloon ride was meant to be a birthday gift to Tresa Shafer Owens from her husband Joe. But the couple and their close friend, Holly Smith Huckabee, died with 13 others in this country's deadliest balloon crash ever.
"She was wonderful," says Steve Sandweiss, the day care's owner. Sandweiss says Tresa Owens worked at the facility for 24 years, mostly caring for infants up to 18 months old. He says Ms. Tresa was the go-to person for raising children.
"Parents came to her over and over," Sandweiss told Fox26 Monday. "Whether it was regarding her age group, infants, or if the children had gotten to be 2 or 3, and it had been a few years since they had Ms. Tresa, they'd come back to her for guidance."
But the grief at Tiger Land runs deeper than the loss of one teacher. As explained in a letter given to parents at the school, both Owens and Huckabee are survived by daughters who teach at Tiger Land.
"As everybody was walking in, it was very tearful," Sandweiss says about Monday morning. "Teachers were crying. Parents who were coming in, who had found out in advance, were tearing up and crying."
Nevertheless, the daycare was nice enough to share their story with Fox 26 Morning news, telling us more about Tresa and Joe.
"Joe got volunteered for a lot of stuff," said Tiger Land Assistant Director, Cheryl Myer as the group around her laughed quietly. "But he loved it, and we loved them."
Sandweiss says remembering the good times has started some of the healing.
"Just kind of hearing everybody laugh and tell stories, it's gotten a lot easier to talk about over the course of the day," he says.
The National Transportation Safety Board continues to investigate the cause of the crash, apparently after contacting power lines. Meanwhile, Tiger Land has its own aftermath to deal with.
"There are obviously times were tragedies happen and something good comes of it. Maybe time will tell, but I just don't see what good could come from this," Sandweiss says.
He appreciates the support that Katy community has shown Tiger Land at this time, but he hopes people will reach out to the Owens and Huckabee families, where the needs are the greatest right now.