East Texans had their first chance Friday to see “The 13th Man,” a documentary about the tragic Texas A&M bonfire collapse in 1999.
It’s a story that has heavy ties to the East Texas community.
“In some ways it seems like a long time, then others, it seems like it was just a few weeks ago,” said Neva Hand, the mother of Jamie Hand, who died in the collapse. “The very fact that she was taken from us at 19, she will always be 19.”
Jamie Hand of Henderson was one of 12 Aggies that died in the sudden fall of the nearly decade-old tradition.
A memorial now sits in the place where the intricate stack of logs collapsed 20 years ago.
And now, this weekend, at select theaters, people across Texas and right here in Tyler can get an inside look at the fateful event. It’s a story filmmaker Charlie Minn says needs to be told and seen.
“We lost 12 young students with bright futures at Texas A&M 20 years ago, God only knows what they would be doing today and what their contributions to society would be,” said Minn. “We should never forget that.”
You will hear a story of hard work, tradition, tragedy, and finally survival.
The movie centers on John Comstock, the last survivor pulled from the pile of logs, but Hand’s story is woven into the fabric of Minn’s documentary.
“By all accounts, Jamie was a tremendous young lady with a bright future, she was vivacious, energetic and her mom talks about her in a very emotional way in the documentary,” said Minn.
He is encouraging all Texans to see the film.
“Hopefully for a weekend, they’ll set aside the studio movies and go see an independent film from the heart, that’s localized. I mean, that’s rare,” said Minn.
Rare and important to Texas and East Texas history.
You will have several opportunities to catch the film here in Tyler.
There will be showings at Studio Movie Grill at 11:15 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Then one showing each day at 11:15 a.m. next week.