One year ago Monday, four people died when prosecutors say Adacia Chambers crashed her car into the crowd watching the OSU homecoming parade.
One survivor is heading back this year and said he is anything but afraid to be at the parade for homecoming weekend.
Leo Schmitz works ten-hour shifts at American Airlines as an avionics technician; so he’s got big plans to have fun in Stillwater when his weekend rolls around.
For nearly three decades, Schmitz has worked at American Airlines, and he never doubted he would be back at work after recovering from the crash that brought the OSU Homecoming Parade to a deadly stop.
"With the Lord's help, I was able to make it back to work on June 16th of this year," Schmitz said.
He's doing everything he used to, including going up and down the stairs, but now he has a prosthetic leg.
"I'm able to get through it and do whatever I need to do to make these airplanes safe for people to fly on," he said.
But Schmitz said October 24th is not about his recovery.
"Today is the day that we all have to remember the four people that passed away,” he said. “This is their day."
And he said the best way to honor them in Stillwater on Saturday is to just have fun.
"We wanna put a bad thing behind us, and we have fun to finish up because a lot of us never been able to finish having fun," Schmitz said.
He said that will give survivors and fans a chance to move forward.
"This parade is gonna be the first step to freedom for a lot of us," he said.
Something else he wants to do is take a moment to say thank you.
"If we can show up to the first responders that we get to meet in person, then we can say 'thank you, you guys did a great job because here I am. Without your help, we wouldn't be here,'" Schmitz said.
The same courage and determination that got him back on his feet are keeping him positive about the parade.
Schmitz said, "This is gonna be the best OSU orange parade that you're ever gonna see."