April 19: A Very Dark Day in History for South Dakota and Nation
It was not only a tragic day for South Dakota but for the nation. April 19, 1993 is a day remembered well as South Dakota residents mourned the loss of Governor George Mickelson. He was among the 8 dead when a twin-engine airplane was en route to Sioux Falls from Ohio, crashing into a silo near Dubuque, Iowa.
South Dakota residents would learn about the horrific crash in the late afternoon hours of April 19. We needed to come to grips that our governor had perished along with two state pilots, Ron Becker and David Hanson, banker David Birkeland, business executive Angus Anson, Sioux Falls Development Foundation leader Roger Hainje, economic development commissioner Roland Dolly and energy commissioner Ron Reed.
Walter Dale Miller was sworn into the lead role shortly thereafter.
The news was a big story at home, but on the very same day, the 51-day siege at the Waco, Texas, compound of the armed Branch Davidian religious cult ended tragically as fire destroyed the structure after federal agents began a tear gas assault. Among the 86 killed were 17 children and cult leader David Koresh.
The nation watched in horror as the compound burned on live television, knowing that most of the people, including children, were not coming out. The Waco story dominated the headlines over the next week, and the crash that claimed South Dakota's governor was overshadowed by the other tragedy that unfolded on that normally quiet prairie in Texas.
Exactly two years after the Waco tragedy and the South Dakota plane crash, on April 19, 1995, a truck bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people, including 19 children. Timothy McVeigh was later convicted of the bombing and sentenced to death. McVeigh was at the Branch Davidian compound to protest the authorities presence and had a deep-seeded hatred for the United States government.
These three tragedies remain in our minds. It's hard to believe that they all happened on the same day in history.