University of Victoria students who died in Bamfield bus crash remembered at school gathering

Emma Machado (left) and John Geerdes (right) were killed when a bus filled with UVic students went off a remote logging road near Bamfield.

Students and staff at the University of Victoria came together Tuesday afternoon to remember two first-year biology students who died in a bus crash near Bamfield Friday.

An hour of reflection and support was organized at the BiblioCafé from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Emma Machado of Winnipeg and John Geerdes from Iowa were the two 18-year-olds who ded when a charter bus them and 43 other university students veered off a remote dirt road southwest of Port Alberni on Vancouver Island.

The students and two teaching assistants were on their way to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre for a field trip.

Robin Hicks, acting dean of the Faculty of Science, said in a statement that Machado and Geerdes showed a love of marine biology and a passion for the natural world.

At Machado’s former high school in Winnipeg, she was remembered as an active volunteer and a caring person.

A spokeswoman for the private all-girls Balmoral Hall School said younger girls looked up to Machado.

“She was adored by our younger students who she volunteered with, whenever she could,” said Jennifer Pawluk.

Machado was active in many student groups and worked in after-school care for younger kids.

“She just had a way about her that she would light up any room that she walked into. She was a lovely, lovely person,” Pawluk said.

Geerdes was a varsity soccer player who described UVic as his dream school. His friends and teammates described him as kind and intelligent leader.

University spokeswoman Denise Helm said one student injured in the crash remained in hospital Tuesday. Helm could not provide further details.

She said students from the campus have been making the trip to the Bamfield centre every fall for at least 18 years.

Machado and Geerdes were just weeks into their academic studies, Hicks said.

With files from The Canadian Press


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