Texas A&M Bonfire Collapse Remembered

Ceremony at Reed Arena at 8 p.m. Tuesday and candlelight vigil at 2:42 a.m. Wednesday

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Nov. 18, 1999, the 59-foot tower of logs at Texas A&M University collapsed as it was being built. Along with the dozen killed, 27 others were injured.

    The bonfire collapse at Texas A&M University killed Carolyn Adams' daughter, Miranda. A decade later, Adams said she's grateful her daughter and the 11 other Aggies killed haven't been forgotten.

      "The Aggie family said they would never ever forget," she said. "That's been true. They haven't. They continue to honor their memory."
     
    A&M commemorated the 10th anniversary of the bonfire collapse Tuesday and Wednesday.
     
    About 10,000 Aggies and others were expected to fill the university's basketball arena Tuesday evening for a ceremony remembering the accident, in which the 59-foot tower of logs collapsed as it was being built early Nov. 18, 1999. Along with the dozen killed, 27 others were injured.
     
    Bonfires on the eve of A&M's game with archrival University of Texas had been a long-standing tradition at the university.
     
    Thousands of people are expected to gather for a candlelight vigil at the collapse site at 2:42 a.m. Wednesday, the exact time of the accident. A circular memorial now marks the spot.
     
    Adams, a retired teacher from Santa Fe, Texas, said she and her family will attend the ceremony and candlelight vigil to remember 19-year-old Miranda.
     
    "Miranda had a beautiful smile. Her smile reflected what was on the inside of her: her love of God, her love of family and friends and her love of A&M," said Adams, 57. "It makes me sad I don't have her here. But I know I will see her again."
     
    The annual bonfire, started in 1909, was the ultimate tradition for many at A&M, where tradition is fervently respected. As many as 70,000 people would gather to watch it burn on the 5,200-acre campus 100 miles northwest of Houston.
     
    No bonfires have been held at the university since the collapse. Many Aggies, including Texas Gov. Rick Perry, would like the tradition to resume. But others question whether such traditions, rooted in the school's military and rural roots, has a place at A&M, which has been working to develop a national reputation as a university that values diversity, research and academic achievement.
     
    An off-campus bonfire not affiliated with A&M has been held each year since 2002.
     
    A commission that investigated the collapse found students had been cutting corners in construction for years and school officials had failed to adequately supervise them. No one person or group was blamed for the accident.
     
    Richard Frampton, 61, of Turlock, Calif., lost his 22-year-old son, Jeremy, in the collapse. He and his family plan on being at A&M for the remembrance.
     
    "It will be a difficult time, but it will be a healing time," Frampton said.