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'It makes no sense': Families mourn as vigil set for UVic bus crash victims
Two first-year University of Victoria students who tragically died in a bus crash are being mourned by people across Canada and the United States on Tuesday.
Emma Machado, 18, from Winnipeg and John Geerdes, 18, from Iowa City were both killed while on a field trip from Victoria to Bamfield Friday night.
Forty-five students and two teaching assistances were on a Wilson’s Transportation bus when it suddenly left a rugged gravel road and crashed into a ravine just before 10 p.m.
“Both of these students demonstrated a love of marine biology and a passion for the natural world,” said Robin Hicks, acting dean of the Faculty of Science.
UVic is holding a vigil at 4 p.m. Tuesday to remember Machado and Geerdes.
Machado’s family was at their home in Manitoba when two police officers came to bring the tragic news to the family.
Her mother said Machado wanted to change the world and was looking forward to living on her own and starting the next chapter of her life in Victoria.
"She was a very generous person, loveable, loved life," said Ethel MacIntosh. "I don’t understand, obviously, why this happened. There is no reason… it makes no sense."
Emma's older sister Samantha Machado said the two had a lot of future plans about what they were going to do when they’d see each other next.
"She was so smart… I wish I had told her that more," said Samantha.
Her parents said Emma chose UVic for the smaller, intimate campus and she was enjoying the "island life."
"She was hopeful that through her career path that she would make a difference and that was a passion of hers to do ocean conservation," said MacIntosh.
Friends of Geerdes described the young man as a leader and a talented athlete.
In a post on social media, Darcy Smith wrote that he'd known the young man 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."
His former coach told CTV News on Monday that he had a big heart.
"I hope everyone can think of him as somebody who loved life and loved everyone who was around him," said Jose Michel Fajardo.
Police told the family Machado suffered a severe head injury and the family identified her by photographs of three of her tattoos.
"We miss her, We just want her here with us," said MacIntosh.
The family plans to be in Victoria on Tuesday to collect her belongings and also bring their daughter’s body home.
"We are upset that we weren’t with her. Maybe she suffered a long time," said MacIntosh. "Nobody can tell us exactly what happened."
Police are continuing their investigation into the fatal crash, analyzing over 40 witness and crash victim statements.
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.
One other student who was injured in the crash remains in hospital at this time.
Tuesday’s vigil will be held at the BiblioCafé on the main floor of the McPherson Library.