Coach Dave Sanders was the women’s basketball and softball coach at Columbine High School, and had also taught computer and business classes. He’d worked there for 25 years.
On April 20, 1999, after the shots rang out, he and two other janitors successfully evacuated hundreds of children out of the cafeteria to safety.
Afterwards, he ran up the stairs into the hallway and guided more students into classrooms, until he was shot from behind by Eric Harris, in the torso, head, and neck.
He managed to get himself into a nearby classroom for safety, and the frightened students inside tirelessly worked together to keep him alive. Students ripped their shirts into bandages in attempt to stop the bleeding, which pooled heavily on the floor. A student named Deidra Kucera wrote “1 BLEEDING TO DEATH” on a small whiteboard and put in the window to get help to Dave faster. Despite his severe bloodloss, Dave hung on for a long time - nearly three hours.
Law enforcement assured students who were calling from their cell phones for help that paramedics for Dave were “on their way,” and they relayed that to Dave, who slipped in and out of consciousness. However, that help never came. Students tried to keep him awake by showing him pictures of his wife and family, but, eventually, Dave told them he wasn’t going to make it. His last words here, “Tell my family I love them.”
The softball field at Columbine was afterwards renamed the Dave Sanders Memorial Softball Field in his honor.
He left behind his wife, four children, and five grandchildren.