'We had a lot of plans': Students killed in bus crash remembered as enthusiastic, kind
Emma Machado and John Geerdes are seen in images from Facebook and YouTube.
Published Tuesday, September 17, 2019 8:30AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 17, 2019 12:59PM PDT
Two students killed during a bus crash late last week are being remembered as enthusiastic learners who were generous and good to the people in their lives.
Emma Machado and John Geerdes, both 18, died Friday when their bus careened off an embankment on a remote logging road and landed upside down.
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The University of Victoria students were among 45 peers and two teaching assistants at the time of the crash. The group was heading to the Bamfield Marine Science Centre, located in a small community on Vancouver Island surrounded by Crown Land, First Nations land and parts of the Pacific Rim National Park.
The crash occurred on a stretch of road between Bamfield, B.C., and Port Alberni.
Machado was from Winnipeg, and although she'd only lived in Victoria less than two weeks at the time of her death, her family said she'd fallen in love with the B.C. capital.
She'd visited Vancouver Island in the spring to check out the University of Victoria campus, and immediately decided it was where she wanted to move.
She and her mother moved her things on Sept. 1. The 18-year-old died just 12 days later.
Machado's family said she was the youngest of her siblings. She was fun to be around and her parents told CTV News Vancouver Island they never felt like they had to worry about her.
She was thrilled to be part of the biology program at the science centre, they said. She was excited about the field trip.
Her mother, Ethel MacIntosh, said the family planned to be in Victoria Tuesday to collect her things and bring Machado's body home.
"We miss her. We just want her here with us," MacIntosh said in an interview with CTV News Winnipeg Monday.
Her family remembers her as outgoing, assertive, generous and talented. She played drums and guitar, had tattoos and loved life.
She wanted to be a marine biologist.
"We had a lot of plans," her sister Samantha said.
John Geerdes was also eager to go on the trip, a friend from UVic said.
In a post on social media, Darcy Smith wrote that he'd known the young man from Iowa City, Iowa, for just a short time, but that they'd become fast friends.
"He was someone that was so easy to sit and banter with, and we talked about more serious things like our goals for the future," Smith wrote.
Geerdes woke up at 6 a.m. the day students were able to sign up for the science centre trip just to make sure he got a spot, Smith said.
"What I will always be grateful for is that I gave John a hug before he left."
Those who knew him in Iowa wrote online that the community is feeling the loss of their friend and family member.
Jose Michel Fajardo wrote in a Facebook post on a page for a soccer team Geerdes had been on that the teen had graduated just a few months ago, and was a good friend and a good human.
"A leader, for everyone. A hard worker, like no other. A never give up person, showing others the way to succeed," Fajardo wrote.
He said the young man was beloved by students and staff at his high school, and was a kind and talented person.
"Thank you for (being) the best and for letting me be part of your life," he posted.
Cause of crash still under investigation
Authorities are still looking into exactly what went wrong the night that Geerdes and Machado died and several other students were injured.
The bus involved was a 2001 Prevost XL2, which had been recently inspected and passed all regulatory requirements, Wilson Transportation said.
It was equipped with seatbelts, and the driver was experienced, the company said.
Alcohol has been ruled out as a factor, but little else is known about the incident.
Another vehicle had been in the area at the time, the RCMP said Monday, and the driver remained at the scene, providing assistance.
It is not yet known whether that driver played any role in the crash.
As part of its investigation, police are analyzing more than 40 witness statements. Port Alberni's mayor said Transport Canada is also investigating the crash.
Those who use the privately road frequently told CTV News it's been in need of repairs for years.
B.C. Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said Monday she's heard concerns from a local MLA and a nearby First Nation, and that ministry officials have been looking into the issue to determine whether improvements could be made.
"The situation is complex as this is a private, industrial road, operated and maintained by private companies for active forestry operations," she said in an emailed statement.
With files from CTV News Vancouver Island and CTV News Winnipeg