Recovering Minnehaha President Mourns The Loss Of Explosion Victims

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The explosion at Minnehaha Academy Wednesday morning left school president Donna Harris with an injured knee and sprained ankles.

“I fell to the ground, that’s how I injured my knee,” she said. “I remember my shoes were off, it was smoky, I was coughing.”

She says the force of the blast threw her and two others several feet into the air as debris flew everywhere.

They ended up climbing out of the shattered windows of her office, rather than heading out of an emergency exit.

“The exit that Ruth took, had we not been pushed back into my office due the force of the explosion, we would have gone thought that same exit,” Harris said.

She describes the death of receptionist Ruth Berg, one of the two killed in the blast, as a devastating loss.

Read More: NTSB Says Minnehaha Academy Explosion Investigation Could Take A Year

“She was always greeting people with a huge smile, so unassuming, so kind, caring,” Harris said.

She spoke to the wife of custodian John Carlson as crews searched for him. His body was found Wednesday night.

“She said, if it does appear that John lost his life at Minnehaha, there is no better place, because he loved, he loved Minnehaha,” Harris said.

The school’s president is hopeful Minnehaha Academy will be able to start the school year as scheduled.

“It’s a matter of where, it’s a matter of assessing our building… this is just day two,” Harris said.

The buildings that make up the Lower and Middle School campus of Minnehaha Academy were not damaged. Harris believes those students will be able to start school later this month.

As for the Upper school, she says it may be necessary to find a new location to hold classes until the existing building can be restored. Once they find a new location, she says classes will likely start for Upper school students on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

Classes are slated to start Aug. 23.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help rebuild the Upper School.

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