The two victims from Friday’s tragic bus crash near Bamfield have been identified as Emma Machado and John Geerdes, both 18.
They were on-board a bus with 43 other first year University of Victoria biology students and two teaching assistants, when their vehicle went off a logging road and rolled — killing them both.
Emma’s family in Manitoba say they cannot believe what happened.
“We were devastated, we still are, our lives will never be the same,” said mother Ethel MacIntosh.
Her family described her as loving, outgoing and the funny one in the family.
John was a varsity soccer player who came from Iowa, after saying UVic was his dream school.
“[I asked] why are you going so far away? and he was like oh no that place is great for me, I really found from the schooling and that place what I want to do… it’s a beautiful place,” said Jose Fajardo, soccer coach for the City High Men’s team.
UVic student Long Le lived next door to John, in the Joseph Cunliffe Residence building.
“He was the type to kind of connect with everyone, a social butterfly,” said Le.
“He was probably the first UVic student I got to know.”
The residents of the building are in shock, as both students killed called it home.
“I’ve heard everyone say she was super friendly, and a really outgoing person, makes friendly really easily,” said Maya Friesen, a student at UVic.
The tragedy has rocked John’s tight-knit school south of the border.
“Its hit hard, he has a sister that’s a student here now, he has two older brothers who already graduated from city high and a younger brother that is going to come our way next year,” said John Bacon, City High School Principal.
“So five kids in the family, just people who are invested in our school so obviously a lot of deep relationships… and everyone is hurting for the family.”
He is being remembered as an incredibly positive and driven young man. After his freshman year he worked his way up to the varsity soccer team. John spoke to both Fajardo and Bacon just weeks ago before he left.
“A very hardworking guy, never would stop believing in his possibilities…. one of those people you could not say no to,” said Fajardo.
“A student that just stood out in terms of his leadership that he offered to the school,” said Bacon.
“Really just the term “friend to all” may sound like a cliche, but in John’s case that’s what he was.”
Emma and her family had only been in touch a few times with short calls and text messages, as she was excited to begin post-secondary.
“We had no idea that anything happened to the bus, we knew Emma was going on a field trip. She hadn’t talked to us a lot lately,” said MacIntosh.
“She was so excited with school. We were planning on talking to her on Sunday night.”
Fajardo and Bacon say Geerdes was a major leader.
It’s not the first time tragedy has struck the Iowa school. Three years ago the team lost another student from a car accident.
Grief Councillors were on hand along with staff to help students.
The coach added that John played a big role for his son.
“He would love having Mica [his son] around… he would pass the ball with my son, he was just so happy and proud to be around him,” said Fajardo.
Emma’s family went on to say she was a social go-getter, someone who would take charge and often planned family night outs.
“We’re a very close family, we like to mostly do things together, Emma [was] the most sociable and outgoing of us, she was kind of our social connection to the rest of the world,” said MacIntosh.
A community gathering for reflection and support will be held at UVic Tuesday from 4-5 p.m. at the BiblioCafé.
The investigation in to the cause of the crash is still underway. The bus was being examined by commercial vehicles inspectors Monday.
With files from the CBC