'I gave John a hug before he left': Students killed in bus crash were from Manitoba, Iowa
Published Monday, September 16, 2019 9:52AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 17, 2019 8:02AM PDT
An American teenager who was killed in a bus crash near Bamfield on Friday night is being remembered as a leader and a talented soccer player.
Friends have identified John Geerdes, 18, from Iowa City, as one of two people killed on a University of Victoria trip for first-year biology students travelling to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Friday.
Jose Michel Fajardo from Iowa City High School wrote on social media that he cannot explain the pain and sorrow the community is feeling.
“A friend, the best. A human being, the absolute best. A leader, for everyone. A hard worker, like no other. A never give up person, showing others the way to succeed,” said Fajardo.
A University of Victoria classmate said he met Geerdes and quickly became 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,” said Darcy Smith.
Geerdes eagerly signed up for the Bamfield trip and was looking forward to it, according to Smith.
“He woke up at 6 a.m., the day of sign up, just to make sure he could get his name on the list,” he said. “What I will always be grateful for is that I gave John a hug before he left.”
Forty-five students and two teaching assistants were aboard the Wilson Transportation bus when it went off the Bamfield Main gravel road and rolled down an embankment, landing in a ravine just before 10 p.m.
According to Wilson Transportation, the driver was experienced and suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Fajardo said Geerdes was an amazing, kind and talented person and was beloved by students and staff at the high school.
“I was lucky enough to talk with John for 35 minutes the day before he left and those moments, plus many more, will stay with me forever,” said Fajardo. “Thank you… for letting me be part of your life.”
The BC Coroners Service tells CTV News the other victim in the crash is an 18-year-old woman from Winnipeg. Her identity has not been released.
Mounties say the driver of another vehicle in the area at the time of the crash remained at the scene and provided assistance to rescuers.
Police are still investigating whether this driver played any role in the crash. Alcohol has been ruled out as a factor.
"The bus involved was a 2001 Prevost XL2, this bus was recently inspected and passed all regulatory requirements and was equipped with seat restraints," said Wilson Transportation in a statement on Monday.
"We are cooperating and working with the RCMP and all those involved to help in whatever way we can with this investigation," added Wilson Transportation.
Police are now analyzing more than 40 statements from crash victims and witnesses.
The families of the two students killed in the crash were notified by police over the weekend, according to the coroner.
“Due to the privacy of the deceased, the BC Coroners Service does not publicly confirm or release identity and will not be providing any other information until the investigations into the deaths are concluded,” said a spokesperson with the coroners service.