Hannah Strom grew up in Marion and began rowing when she attended Tabor Academy. She continued her rowing career in college with the Holy Cross crew team. While training down at the Vero Beach Rowing Club in Florida, the team's van was involved in a horrific accident that took the life of Grace Rhett, one of Strom's teammates. Three other rowers, including Strom, were left in critical condition. Eight people were hospitalized for days after the accident.

Lawnwood Medical Center
Courtesy of Gail Strom

It is tough to think about what Strom's fate would have been like if it weren't for the work of first responders to the scene of the accident. Hannah's mother, Gail Strom, said that Hannah had been asking to make the return trip to Florida to meet and thank the officers and medical staff that "gave her a second chance at life."

That is exactly what the Stroms did last week. The owners of Kool Kone in Wareham took some time away from the restaurant to put some things to rest.

"We needed to make some new footprints in Vero Beach," Strom said. "The time had come for us to meet our first heroes."

Gail Strom said that she needed to make the Florida trip in order to continue with her own journey dealing with the accident that has dominated the last year and a half of her family's life.

Tom Strom told us that everyone in the family was emotional during the trip.  He admits that he was nervous before meeting the officers that saved his daughter's life.  The family also visited the crash site, which was also particularly moving.

Hannah Strom visited the Vero Beach Rowing Club where her dear friend is memorialized on one of the boats housed there.

Hannah Strom Grace Rhett

"Our little getaway consisted of some tough unavoidable moments, but we made sure to surround ourselves with relaxing time by the pool, beach, and enjoying nice restaurants," she said. "It was a true honor meeting our Vero Beach Police heroes, visiting Vero Beach Rowing, Jackie Robinson Training Complex, and Lawnwood Medical."

Courtesy of Gail Strom
Courtesy of Gail Strom

Hannah resumes her classwork at Holy Cross in the coming weeks.  She has since decided that she wants to become a physical therapist and help people the way she has been helped over the past 19 months.

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