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10 years later: Nacogdoches community remembers Columbia tragedy

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Nacogdoches, TX (KYTX) -- Most people in Nacogdoches have a story to tell.

"My son-in-law was a firefighter here at the time, found a piece of the shuttle on top of the fire station," Sybil Southers, a resident in Nacogdoches, said.

When the unexpected disaster touched down in their own backyard, people in the community sprung into action.

Robert Hurst remembers 10 years ago, as the first call came in.

"We have this call--a lady says something fell out of the sky and into her front yard," Hurst, Director of Homeland Security and Incident Commander at the time, said.

Hurst said his mission was simple. "We'll do everything we can to help NASA figure out what happened," he said.

Search teams found not only parts of the shuttle, but some remains. Hurst says one of the most painful memories for him was when he asked NASA astronauts who flew in, if they knew the victims.

"The guy looks at me and says 'we're family and we understand you have some of our family members here, and we've come to take our family home.' You talk about something going from your head to your heart that fast," Hurst said.

Analysts determined damaged during the launch, which caused a hole in Columbia's left wing, ultimately led to its destruction.

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