Band Instructor Dies Saving Lives

Cambri HillOn October 10 in 2009, an event occurred that would forever change my life. I was a flute player and member of the American Fork High School Marching Band located in American Fork, Utah. I was a Freshman at the Junior High School and was going through my first season of Marching Band. After competing in many different competitions and winning each, we got onto buses that would take us to Pocatello, Idaho where we’d be competing against bands we had never competed with. After winning each award, we stepped onto the bus to make the long ride back home.

Most of us were comfortably asleep while others tried to pass the time quietly. After we traveled for an hour, I was startled when I noticed the TV screens were flickering off. Confused, I sat up in my chair and looked out the front window of the bus. We were going off the road. The bus started shaking uncontrollably and we were speeding faster and faster by the minute. We were all screaming and crying, holding on to the seats in front of us, not knowing what would happen. Eventually, my eyes began to cloud over and the world blackened right as our bus began to tip to the side. My body fell and hit the glass window below me, although I don’t recall it.

Once we were situated on another bus, our band director, John Miller, came to talk with us. He told us he was so grateful for our safety and knew that surely angels were holding tight to us as we strayed from the road. Nothing could prepare us for the words he was about to say; our Woodwind Instructor, Heather Christensen, was ejected from the bus and killed trying to save our lives.

Our bus driver had passed out, which caused us to go off the side of the road. Heather bravely got up and took hold of the steering wheel, directing us in between and around many obstacles that would have caused much more damage. Our bus tipped and skidded to a stop before falling into a ditch. Literally, she had saved our lives.

For me, this event brought the Atonement of our Savior to life. Jesus Christ did not have to die for us, yet, He did. Because He knew it was the right thing to do. He was an example to us, showed us how we should live our lives and died for us so that we could live with Him again. Although these two situations are not the same, they are similar in many different ways. Heather usually didn’t ride the bus, but for some reason she stepped onto the bus that morning, knowing we would be needing her later on. She didn’t have to stand up and take control of the bus, but she did, and I can’t help but feel as though she knew she would be giving up her life if she grabbed a hold of that steering wheel.

Her love and sacrifice makes her a hero for me and the many other lives that she saved that day. She was an inspiration, a woman that lived her life and grew to her potential. She was an example for many, a friend. And even though I didn’t know her very well or personally, my love for her still continues to grow to this day.

Throughout my remaining years in marching band, we have been able to stop by her grave sight. To show our thankfulness and love for her. She was an inspiration to many, especially me. Because of her, I continued in marching band for all four years. I stayed in concert band until the end of my senior year and was a part of every single music event I could be a part of, which led me to where I am today. I currently get the opportunity to staff at another high school with so many amazing students, teaching them the same things that Heather taught me. I’m also a music education major at BYU Idaho. Without her, none of this would be happening. Music literally changed my life for good.

Heather taught me so many lessons, even though she was only part of my life for a short time. I know that she is in a much better place now and is surely receiving so many blessings. She paid the ultimate sacrifice and she will never be forgotten.

Because of her I gained a testimony of the atonement. I know that God lives and He loves us each personally. He wants us to be happy and to live with Him again. He can see our potential and knows what we need to do in order to reach it. He’s there, willing to help us if we let Him. His arm is extended to us, we just have to take it.

I know that if we do our best here on this earth we’ll be eternally happy.

Read more about Cambri’s experience at

Story written by: Cambri Hill

This story appeared first on Real Imprints.