Gov. Mark Dayton offered condolences to the staff and students of Peter Hobart Elementary in St. Louis Park on Friday morning during a memorial held for two students who died this week in a landslide.
"I wish I could say something that could make you feel better. And I wish I could say something that could explain to you why this terrible thing happened," Dayton told students gathered outside the school. "But I can't."
On Wednesday a landslide killed Haysem Sani, 9, and Mohamed Fofana, 10, and injured two other students. Two other students were injured. They were among 48 4th graders on a fossil hunting field trip to Lilydale Regional Park in St. Paul.
MORE COVERAGEDayton told students that he too lost a friend in a similar hiking accident 28 years ago.
• Photos: The deadly Lilydale landeslide
• Story: Park to remain closed after fatal landslide
• Story: School, community copes with tragedy
• Story: Landslide raises questions about bluff's safety
• Interview: What caused the Lilydale landslide?
"I'm sure you'll remember your two friends, sadly as I so remember mine. This is a hard thing to have to go through for anybody, for adults, but for all of you especially." Dayton said.
Parents from the Hobart Elementary community turned out for the memorial as well.
Amanda Williams' three children attend the school. Williams said the accident has made her children anxious because they've been on the same field trip in the past.
"I think over time they'll feel safe and I thought the governor's words were important for children to hear." Williams said.
Williams said she would understand if the school ends field trips to Lilydale Park — not necessarily because of safety concerns, but rather because of the memories it might dredge up for students.
Cadi Thyne has two children at Peter Hobart Elementary and was a parent chaperone during last year's fossil hunting field trip.
Thyne said the accident was a freak of nature.
"No one is harboring any resentment against the school and their decision to go," Thyne said.
Krista Schreiner came to Friday's memorial, not because she has a personal connection with the victims, but because she grew up and still lives near Lilydale Park.
"It could have been any one of us. We've stood in that very spot many times. I've taken my kids down there with the stroller," Schreiner said. "I grew up hiking those trails with my dad and exploring the caves. It's very sad."
Schreiner brought fossils she found in the park to the memorial. She asked school officials to give them to family members of the students.
"We just figured that's what they were there looking for and it might be nice to have a piece of that," Schreiner said.