GRANITEVILLE - A crowd of about 70 people gathered Saturday to mark the second anniversary of Graniteville's deadly 2005 train derailment and chlorine spill.
Among them was 2-year-old Steven Bagby Jr., who held a small American flag as his father's name was called from a list of victims.
Steven was just 10 days old when his father, Steven Bagby Sr., died from chlorine inhalation in the break room of the Gregg plant. Steven Jr. looked on as a silver-colored bell was rung after each of the nine victims' names was read.
Like many who came to the University of South Carolina Aiken to remember loved ones lost, Steven's mother, Marie Schooler, said it was difficult to remember the day she lost her fianc and her son lost a father.
"He said to give his little son a kiss for him and he would be home in the morning," Ms. Schooler said, recalling that night. "He never called."
Saturday's ceremony found a community still grappling with the impact of the train disaster.
The people in the crowd, many of whom were relatives and friends of the victims, listened as state and local officials stressed their hope for a brighter future as gospel and choir groups sang.
South Carolina Rep. Roland Smith said plans have been approved to improve the safety of the roads crossing through the area of the wreck, while Graniteville-Vaucluse-Warrenville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Phil Napier expressed hope in the town's future.
"We've had the wind knocked out of us and we're still breathing," he said. "This is our second breath. I look forward to our third."
Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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