Tragedy can strike at any time. Every time we turn on the news or browse social media there are more and more stories of shootings and violence.
Many of us are touched by the stories but, thankfully, have not experienced the horrific scenes ourselves. It is difficult to watch as students run from their school, away from a gunman.
Annika Dean knew the threat and terror of violence all too well. She was one of the survivors of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport shooting.
The tragedy left five people dead and six others injured. Living through that horrific scene was life-changing for Dean.
She began a renewed thankfulness for her children and the time they spent together. Little did she know that another terrible scene would unfold, one that she had no control over.
In a grim twist of fate, Dean received a text from her son, Austin, while he was at school. He told his mother that there was a shooting drill and it was very distressing.
His next words would shake Dean to the core. “IT’S NOT A DRILL,” he texted.
Austin attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Dean said he continued to text.
“He described that people had been running and screaming and he told me he was on lockdown,” she said.
Dean was taken back to her own experience as she learned that her son had hidden in a classroom. She too had hidden, as the shooter ran through the airport baggage claim area of the airport.
Dealing with her son’s experience left Dean even more traumatized. It was hard enough going through a life-threatening event as an adult.
Knowing that your child is going through a similar thing and you can do nothing to help them is hard to process.
She was heartbroken that her son had to go through the same trauma but was so grateful for every text he sent. Though Austin was safe, he lost two of his best friends in the shooting.
It’s a rare situation, two family members going through two similar traumatic events all within a short space of time.
Dean describe it as, “It’s incredibly rare. My brother said you’re either one of the luckiest or the unluckiest and I said it’s both. It’s both.”
Dean has tried to teach both of her children what to do in these types of situations. It’s unfortunate that we live in a world where we need to worry about our safety in places where we should be protected, but thankfully this family is still intact.
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