WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) brought Susan and Richard Lunski, the first people at the scene of the bus-train crash near Larimore, North Dakota, on Jan. 5, as her guests to the State of the Union address on Tuesday evening.
The Lunskis live less than 100 yards away from the train tracks where the accident took place. They helped rescue students as they waited for first responders to get to the scene.
Heitkamp said that every day there are people in our communities who do exceptional acts for others, and they should be honored and thanked. Bringing the Lunskis to the State of the Union address was about honoring heroes in our communities, whether they are intentional or unintentional heroes, she added.
“Richard and Susan Lunski didn’t wake up the morning of the bus crash in Larimore thinking they would do something extraordinary,” Heitkamp said on Tuesday. “But when they heard the crash, looked out their front door, and saw the accident less than 100 yards away, they didn’t hesitate — they ran toward the crash. That’s true heroism. I was so moved by their story. Thank goodness we have people like the Lunskis in our communities who do amazing things for others just out of the kindness of their hearts. It’s a true honor to have the Lunskis as my guests to the State of the Union address.”
“It means so much that Senator Heitkamp invited us to be her guests to the State of the Union address. It will truly be a once in a lifetime experience,” Richard and Susan Lunski said on Tuesday before attending the event. “We did what anyone else would have done in such a terrible situation. We’re hoping the trip to Washington will help our town continue to come together to make Larimore strong. We are one community bonded by our strength, compassion, and resilience, and we will heal together.”
Each senator and member of Congress receives one ticket for a guest to attend the State of the Union address. Minnesota Congressman Collin Peterson provided his extra ticket so both Richard and Susan Lunski were able to attend.
While in Washington, Heitkamp joined the Lunskis for dinner in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday before the State of the Union address with other attendees. Heitkamp also helped set up special tours for the Lunskis of the East Wing of the White House, the U.S. Capitol, Library of Congress, and National Museum of the American Indian.