Discovery of crash victim's homework leads to search for mystery woman

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WEST JORDAN — There are all sorts of papers and newspaper clipping Joyce Holder has kept through the years, but the one with her sister's handwritten name on it is the paper she treasures the most.

"Oh, it just brings tears to my eyes. It's amazing," Holder said.

The piece of paper is 75 years old, and belonged to Holder's sister, Virginia. Holder received the paper, Monday, Dec. 2 at the unveiling of a memorial in South Jordan. The memorial honored the 26 victims who died when their school bus was hit by a train in 1938.

Virginia Nelson was one of the victims killed in the horrible accident.

"We had a lot of people there (at the memorial)," Holder said. "There were more than I ever expected to see. I saw a lot of old friends that I haven't seen in years and years."

However, a person Holder had never met is the one she said she can't stop thinking about.

"I heard this woman come up to me and she asked, ‘Is your name Joyce?' And I said 'Yes.' And she said ‘I have something I think you might want to have,' " Holder said.

The woman handed Holder an old, crumpled, piece of paper.

"She said, ‘I found this the day of the accident, right in the snow by the train tracks,' " Holder said.

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It seemed like an old homework assignment, but it had Virginia's handwritten name at the top.

"I said, ‘Oh my goodness.' And she said, ‘Well, we're driving back to Kanab so we have to go now.' She turned and walked away. I have no idea who she was," Holder said.

Holder said she has a lot of questions about the stranger and her kindness.

"It was nothing to her, really. You know? Why she kept it all these years," Holder said. "She never told me her name. Nothing. She just turned around and walked away."

Holder said she recognized her sister's handwriting right away. She is hoping she'll get some answers and meet the woman again, but if not, she's okay with it. Even though it's been 75 years since she last saw her sister, Holder said she feels closer to her now than ever.

"I know she's waiting and I'll be so happy to see her one day," Holder said. "Then we can talk about all of these things."

If you have any information about the woman Holder met at the memorial, you can email


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