Former Columbine principal keynote speaker at risk management summit

ST. LOUIS – It’s been almost two decades since 13 kids were murdered in the Columbine High School massacre.

Columbine’s former principal, Frank DeAngelis, now travels the country as a speaker and safety consultant. He said what he saw at Columbine is unforgettable and people should treat trauma correctly.

“We’re talking 19 years since Columbine happened but when I hear about Parkland, Santa Fe, Kentucky; it took me back to April 20, 1999,” DeAngelis said.

DeAngelis was the keynote speaker of the American Association of Industrial Management’s risk and management summit. Business leaders from the area including the St. Louis Cardinals, the zoo, and several high schools received training in violence prevention, threat assessment, and crisis management.

“Do we need new gun laws, yes, we also need to look at mental health, parents involved in their kids’ lives,” DeAngelis said. “One thing that scares me now is social media.”

Linda Dinhofer, a trauma specialist and survivor of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, said the experience of the attack forever changed her. It set her on a path to becoming a thanatologist, a specialist in death, grief, and loss.

“A leader whose company has gone through a crisis or trauma needs to make decisions and policies that resonate with realities of the human response to drama,” she said.

Dinhoker said trauma doesn’t play fair or by the rules and you can’t force healing into a timetable.

“Our traditional markers of calendar years…in terms of recovery, (it) needs to go right out the window,” she said.

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