Parents of Excel shooting victim speak one year after son's death

DERBY, Kan. (KWCH) "Brian was a fine young man. A man that any mother would be proud of."

Seated close on a couch in the living room right next to the window, Loretta Sadowsky looks to her husband, Bruce, who follows by saying, "He worried about everybody."

For Bruce and Loretta, sitting in their living room talking about their son, Brian, isn't anything new. In fact, Loretta said they do it nearly every day.

"I think I just about have to say every day something comes up, whether we laugh or we cry," Loretta said. "But funny things that he did as a child. Things that he said, things that he wore."

The two say it's been a hard year but it's also been a year of learning about their son. They said there have been things people say about Brian that they didn't quite realize.

"'I've had so many people say 'he saved my life,'" Bruce said.

"We didn't realize all the good he was doing," Loretta said.

Bruce and Loretta said Brian was into drugs when he was younger but recovered and worked for Narcotics Anonymous to help others fight the same battle he once fought. They said they knew he helped others but didn't realize the scope until Brian's funeral.

"There were so many people there. We're not sure how many were there," Loretta said. "The church was full and they were outside standing. And we want to say that we appreciated it because we didn't realize how many followers and people's lives were influenced by Brian. And we want to thank everybody for showing up because Brian would have been very impressed."

Bruce said there were so many NA participants at his funeral, he heard over and over how Brian saved and changed lives.

Since the shooting, Bruce and Loretta said they learned something else about Brian.

"Thirty minutes to an hour before the fatal shot, they gave him the promotion and the raise that he had been very much looking forward hour before. He never got to tell me because he would call me at suppertime," Loretta said. "He called one of his best friends Tony and asked him to teach him welding, something that he needed to do the job."

The two said they can't say enough about Excel Industries and the people who work there. They said Excel made a "big man" out of Brian and gave him the opportunities he craved and worked for. Bruce got an idea of how much Excel appreciated his son when he was on an airplane before the shooting with Excel workers.

"They had Excel patches on and I said you guys Excel? And he said yeah, we're management and I said my son runs the laser on the mower deck. Oh you're Brian's dad? He said we've got big plans for Brian. We're going to ship him to Chicago for training, Atlanta for training and somewhere else," Bruce said. "An hour later, I get the call."

Bruce and Loretta said their son took the job at Excel even though he was going to make making less than he would on unemployment. They said he wanted the work experience and didn't want to rely on unemployment for income.

Bruce said he knows the father of the man Brian saved. Brian was outside when the shooting happened in Excel Industries but Bruce said Brian saw his friend inside on the ground and went back in to save him.

"Brian had this kid in his arms when it all happened so he was a hero," Bruce said.

Though Bruce and Loretta's lives are forever changed, they say they're not letting the tragedy outweigh the memories of their son.

"You never forget those great big arms going around you and squeezing you and saying hi mom, hi beautiful, I love you," Loretta said.

"You never get over it. You never get over it," Bruce said.