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December 09, 2011 10:25 PM

Augustana College Remembers Swets

Sioux Falls, SD

Augustana College spent the day getting in touch with the victim's families before notifying the entire campus community about the deaths Friday evening. 

Professor Daniel Swets taught computer science, but his greatest legacy may be his work with kids who were not even in high school yet.

"I just found out today when I got back from work. And just now I found out it was him and I could not believe it. I'm very shocked," Augustana senior Emily Holck said.

Forty-seven-year-old Dan Swets was one of Holck's favorite J-Term professors, and a model for the education major to use in her own classroom.

"I know that everyone is seeking peace in this moment and it will be tough to come by for many," Augustana College President Rob Oliver said. 

Oliver said the associate professor of computer science was passionate about his craft and about including young people in science, specifically through the First Lego League.

Swets was head of the South Dakota Robotics Association, bound for a meeting in Rapid City with Kevin Anderson, Joshua Lambrecht and Pilot Brian Blake. Federal Aviation Administration reports say shortly after taking off, the Cessna began having problems and turned around, but never made it.

"It was not an official Augustana event. However, it was an event that was going to be held later at Augustana. So they were working on planning and that sort of thing," Oliver said.

"He was just very caring," Holck said. "He had this sense that you don't have to be good at science in order to succeed at science. And he taught it in a way that made you understand and wanted to learn more."

Just days before winter break, the college says professors will take over Swets' classes and counselors will be be available to students and faculty.

"As sad as it is for our family and for the students at Augie, of course it is a tragic day for Dan's family," Oliver said. "So our hearts are going out to his family."

Augustana is planning a memorial service for Swets at a later date. Kevin Anderson was an alumnus of the college and also a teacher within the Sioux Falls School district who released this statement: 

The Sioux Falls School District family is devastated by the tragic news of today's plane crash. Kevin Anderson loved his work as a computer programmer, but he loved his family even more. His love for his son is what drove Kevin to become involved in the First LEGO League – an academic enrichment experience that teaches middle school students how to build and program robots for competition. The group was flying to Rapid City for training when the plane went down. Kevin served the District for 23 years with a friendly, can-do attitude at every turn. His family, his student team, and his District colleagues lost an incredible champion for kids.

We offer our deepest sympathy and support to Kevin's family and to the families of the other men who were so deeply committed to the success of young people.

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