Great grandmother killed in bus crash was her family's 'super glue'

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on April 12, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Charter bus accident

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FORT WORTH -- Three sisters and their brother gathered in front of their mother's modest Fort Worth home Friday to support each other.

Their mom, Paula Hahn, was one of two women killed in Thursday's bus crash in Irving. She frequently made the motor coach trip to casinos in Oklahoma.

"She was our glue," said daughter Melissa Engman. "Our super glue that made us a family and held us together."

Paula Hahn's four grown children are trying to hold it together now; planning her funeral, and steeling themselves to learn how she died.

"I worry about if she suffered much," said daughter, Kathy Boldon.

"We have a feeling she was one of ones under the bus," Engman added. "We don't know."

Paula Hahn was 69, with 17 grand kids and nine great grand kids. Her passion for fun on the cheap brings a laugh, even now.

"Pennies. Pennies," they say. "Mom was the penny slot machine."

Their mother retired from the Fort Worth water department two years ago, and started hopping buses to casinos. Weekly at first, but lately every few weeks to stay on budget.

They say she complained the buses sometimes went a little fast for her, but she didn't feel she was gambling with her safety. Now her family wonders, would seat belts have saved her?

"If there's a law for it, and they enforce it on us, they need to enforce it on bus lines," said Donna Garner, another daughter of the victim.

Melissa Engman was at Parkland Hospital Thursday searching for her mom, while Donna watched for word on TV. That's when an officer pulled up at the house with the news.

Their only comfort now, they say, is the selfless response by strangers who stopped at the overturned bus to help.

"I know they couldn't save our mom," Engman said, "but I'm proud of them for saving somebody, as hard as it was."

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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