Though they didn’t want any recognition for themselves – instead calling themselves helpful garden gnomes – the firefighters of Sni Valley Fire Protection district made a real impact for a Platte City family last week.
On Friday, Feb. 15, a massive pileup on Interstate 70 near Oak Grove, Mo. during a snow storm made national headlines. Though dozens were injured in the 47-car crash, there was only one fatality – Linda Henderson of Platte City.
Linda and her husband James Henderson were extricated from their vehicle by the Sni Valley crew, and three months later the fire crew came back to give the Hendersons another assist.
James Henderson spent 63 days in the hospital with multiple injuries from the crash. He’s still recovering, staying with his daughter in Wyoming. While he heals, his granddaughter Lara Henderson is living in his Platte City home, along with her children.
Friday, May 10, the Sni Valley fire crew traveled to Platte City to spend the afternoon redoing the lawn and landscaping at the Henderson’s Florentina Avenue home.
The Sni Valley crew learned the family was having a hard time keeping up with yard work on social media. With luck, one of their number also runs a landscaping business and the firefighters decided their service to the Hendersons was not yet over.
“They just got off a call this morning and then came up here,” Lara Henderson said. “That just shows you the kind of people they are. You don’t meet people like this every day. This isn’t just a job for them.”
Lara Henderson said her family will be forever grateful to the Sni Valley fire crew, which funded the project through a community outreach program.
“We can’t say thank you enough,” she said. “They actually pulled my grandpa out of the wreckage and took proper care of nana.”
A long-time leader and volunteer for the Girl Scouts of Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri, Linda Henderson was remembered at a service held in late February at Vineyard Church in Kansas City North.
For her husband of 55 years, recovery is a day-by-day process. He still suffers from a broken shoulder, and Lara Henderson said due to his own injuries – including a lengthy stint in the ICU – hasn’t had the proper time to mourn the death of Linda.
“As a family, all we can do is support him,” Lara Henderson said.
After his physical recovery, he plans to return to Platte City, and Lara said he hopes to eventually be well enough to take a trip to Alaska.
A Go Fund Me page to help the Hendersons pay for medical bills and other expenses was established just days after the accident and so far has raised more than $10,000. The page can be found at gofundme.com/james-and-linda-henderson.