I-90 accident is especially hard for veterans organization - KOTA Territory News

I-90 accident is especially hard for veterans organization


It's a tragedy on many levels.  Yesterday's deadly accident on I-90 is especially hard for a certain veterans organization. A volunteer for the Disabled American Veterans organization, or DAV, was driving the van involved in the crash.

It has shaken the DAV chapter in Rapid City.  

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families involved in the crash and we hope for a speedy recovery of everyone involved," said Christine Walz, Commander at the DAV chapter in Rapid City.

People will be praying for Walz's family as well.  

"My brother was the one who was driving the DAV van," said Walz.  

Shawn Henry Speirs remains in the hospital. The van he was driving is used daily to transport veterans to Fort Meade, Hot Springs and on occasion even Omaha and Minneapolis at no cost to the veterans. Last year the program transported more than 5,000 veterans.

"It's a needed service. The van program started in South Dakota in 1985," said H.G. Krosschell, Chapter Service Officer at the DAV chapter in Rapid City.

This is the first time a DAV van in the area has been involved in a major accident. Walz hopes this tragedy doesn't cast a shadow on the work the organization does for the community. There are about 11,000 veterans in Pennington County. They brought in more than $100 million to the area in 2011.  

"Since we have so many veterans, the DAV transportation is needed so we can take care of them," said Walz.

The vans rack up about 70,000 miles a year and need to be replaced about every other year.

"But we do struggle sometimes getting the money we need to purchase the vans," said Walz.

"Everything we get is through donations. That's how we survive," said Krosschell.

Donations can be made at the Rapid City DAV chapter on East Madison Street. Walz says the organization was already in the process of ordering a van for next year but because of the accident they may need to buy two vans.



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