Students who died in Vancouver Island bus crash remembered for love of learning

A tow-truck crew removes a bus from an embankment next to a logging road near Bamfield, B.C., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. Students, faculty and staff at the University of Victoria will gather for an hour of reflection and support today as they cope with the aftermath of last Friday's bus crash that killed two students and injured at least a dozen more. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

VICTORIA - Two first-year biology students at the University of Victoria are being remembered for their love of learning and nature.

Emma Machado of Winnipeg and John Geerdes from Iowa have been identified as the two 18-year-olds who died Friday when a charter bus carrying 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 Science 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.

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.

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