High school graduate feeds first responders after train derailment in Sibley, Iowa

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Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 1:05 PM CDT
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SIBLEY, Iowa (Dakota News Now) - Emma Johnson’s high school graduation party was cut short Sunday afternoon when a train derailed in Sibley, Iowa.

While celebrating her accomplishment with friends and family, authorities told everyone at the party they would need to evacuate the 9th Street Centre, where the gathering was taking place.

“I was nervous,” Johnson, a graduate of Sibley-Ocheyedan High School, said. “I didn’t know what was on the train, or like, anything explosive? What could happen?”

Emma’s mother, Heather Bryngelson, said the family had prepared to host up to 200 guests, and she was worried all their food would go to waste.

“I was expecting leftovers, but I wasn’t going to expect that much,” Bryngelson said.

So, they went to a nearby truck stop, just on the edge of town to continue the celebration.

“We just went out there and parked by each other, and kind of visited as much as we could,” Bryngelson said.

It was there that Emma realized she could help out the first responders working to keep her community safe.

“We were sitting there and I was looking up at this officer up on the on-ramp, and I’m like, ‘You know, we have all this food, might as well hand it out, you know? What are we going to do with it?’ And so that’s what we did, we put plates together, sandwiches, chips, cupcakes!” Johnson said.

While the day turned out much different than originally planned, Emma says she’s happy she was able to make a difference.

“It was sad leaving but I wouldn’t change my day for anything,” Johnson said. “I’m glad I had (the graduation party Sunday) and was able to give (first responders) the food that they needed.”

And Heather says she is proud of what her daughter did.

“She made the best of it,” Bryngelson said. “She turned something bad into something good.”

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