Video: Parents of children killed and injured in Lilydale Park landslide speak out

  1. Listen MPR’s Trisha Volpe reports

    July 23, 2013

10-year-old Devin Meldahl was buried alive.

That statement is enough to make anyone shudder. But that’s exactly what happened – and Devin lived to tell the story.

It happened May 22, while Devin was on a fossil hunting field trip to Lilydale Regional Park. He was one of about 50 fourth-grade students from Peter Hobart Elementary School in St. Louis Park on the field trip that day. While the kids were hiking around the park looking for fossils, one of the bluffs gave way. The landslide buried at least four of the children. Devin and another student were injured. Two of their classmates were killed.

In a joint reporting effort between KARE 11 and Minnesota Public Radio News, Devin and his mother Danielle are speaking publicly for the first time about what happened that day.

It’s hard to imagine. Devin was buried for 90 minutes as his teachers and rescue workers tried desperately to dig him out. Danielle didn’t understand what happened to her son when the principal called. Her reunion with Devin was the happiest moment of her life.

I also sat down with the parents of Haysem Sani and Mohamed Fofana, who were both killed in the landslide, to talk to them about how difficult life has been since their young children lost their lives.

Haysem Sani was just 9 years old. His parents, Mohamed Muse and Sartu Nagayo, told us it was Haysem’s dream to go to Harvard. It’s still hard for them to understand how their son could have been killed during a school field trip.

Lancine Fofana told me about his 10-year-old son Mohamed, who was also killed that day. Fofana said his son was a great student and had dreams about building a school for his friends in Africa.

I’ll talk about my interviews with the three families on All Things Considered this afternoon.

Update: You can see my story about the families and hear new details about what rescue workers were up against on KARE 11 here.


  • Sara Johnson

    It was a natural disaster that sadly took the lives of two children and emotionally touched and scarred many more, but NO ONE can predict these types of things. The field trip has been enjoyed by thousands of kids from around Minnesota. ANY field trip, including overnight field trips to camps, have numerous risks, society can’t predict and list out for people all of the risks. Families take risks with their children going on their own adventures. The Eden Prairie woman who lost her life because a tree fell on her while she was walking in a park is another example of a death we can’t control. Loss of life and emotional trauma are awful results of natural disasters —- let’s not make a legal circus out of these natural disasters.

  • Beth

    I am disappointed MPR is choosing to sensationalize this tragedy. I expect better, more thoughtful coverage.