‘A leader for everyone:’ Friends, teammates remember UVic student from U.S. killed in crash near Bamfield

'A leader for everyone:' Friends, teammates remember UVic student from U.S. killed in crash near Bamfield

An American University of Victoria student who died in the bus crash near Bamfield Friday is being remembered as a leader and hard worker by friends and former soccer teammates.

John Geerdes, an 18-year-old from Iowa City, Iowa, was identified on social media by the officials from Iowa City High School. According to Jose Michel Fajardo, who wrote the post, Geerdes played soccer at the school and graduated earlier this year.

“John G is leaving us too early and our hearts are broken by a tragedy, once again,” Fajardo, who coaches the City High boys’ soccer team, wrote.

“Can’t explain the pain and sorrow our community has for this loss and the personal devastation for all of us who will always love John.”

Fajardo wrote Geerdes was an “an amazing, kind, intelligent, talented, special human being,” who was beloved by students and staff at City High. He added he was lucky enough to talk with John for 35 minutes the day before he left.

“John G. A friend, the best. A human being, the absolutely best. A leader, for everyone. A hard worker, like no other. A never give up person, showing others the way to succeed. A true person that we will miss so much,” Fajardo wrote.

Dear Little Hawks and everyone who knew John Geerdes and his family. It is with a very heavy and broken heart that I…

Posted by IC City High Mens Soccer on Saturday, September 14, 2019

John Bacon, the principal of Iowa City High School, also posted about Geerdes on social media, calling him “an amazing person and a friend to all.”

“We love you, John. Our thoughts are with his great family. We stand behind you,” Bacon wrote.

Besides playing soccer, Geerdes also ran for vice-president in his student council elections in 2018, as seen in a video from the Iowa City High School student news site.


Many condolences are being posted on the Iowa City High Men’s Soccer Facebook post, including memories from Darcy Smith, who met Geerdes on move-in day at UVic.

“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. The days leading up to the Bamfield trip, John would tell me over breakfast just how excited he was,” Smith wrote.

“He woke up at 6 a.m. the day of sign up, just to make sure he could get his name on the list. Then the day he was leaving myself and my other friends were going into downtown Victoria, and John to Bamfield. What I will always be grateful for is that I gave John a hug before he left. The news took a full day to come out, and that whole day I was on edge. Since when I found out last night, I only slept one hour. I just miss having such an amazing friend just down the hall from me. My love and condolences go out to his family.”

John Geerdes has been identified by a coach as the UVic American student who died in the crash near Bamfield on Sept. 13, 2019. (IC City High Men's Soccer/Facebook)

John Geerdes has been identified by a coach as the UVic American student who died in the crash near Bamfield on Sept. 13, 2019. (IC City High Men’s Soccer/Facebook)

An 18-year-old woman from Winnipeg was also killed in the crash. She has not been publicly identified but police say the families have been notified.

Forty-five students, two teaching assistants and a driver were on the bus to Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre when it rolled down an embankment about 40 kilometres from Port Alberni.

Several students were injured and one remains in hospital.

The cause of the collision remains under investigation, including whether the driver played any role in the collision. The bus was operated by the Wilson’s Group. Alcohol has been ruled out as a contributing factor.

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena released a statement that she has heard concerns from MLA Scott Fraser and the Huu-ay-aht First Nation about the road.

“Ministry officials have been looking into the issue to determine if safety 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,” Trevena said in the statement.

MultiFaith Services at UVic is providing a space throughout the week for “quiet reflection.”


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