By Neil Doyle
BLOOMINGTON – Community members remembered Charlie Crabtree and honored the Normal West junior varsity girls basketball team after the tragic crash between the team’s bus and a semi-truck last December.
The group was recognized Thursday during the American Red Cross Saluting Our Heroes breakfast.
The 72-year-old Crabtree, a longtime Wildcat volunteer, was killed in the crash near Downs. The eight girls escaped without serious injuries, and it has been a long recovery for JV coach Steve Price and bus driver Mark Kuhn.
Price, Kuhn, and Normal West varsity coach Corey Ostling described what happened that horrific night.
Kuhn explained his decision making. He chose to keep the bus on the road because swerving into the ditch could have more seriously injured the girls.
Ostling said he drove to the scene after getting a call from one of the players. Price said it was something nobody should ever experience.
While they relived the tragedy, they also remembered Crabtree.
“I think one word to describe Charlie, love,” said Kuhn. “The love for the girls, the sport, what he was doing. His spirit is here with us.”
“This is a time to be grateful, but it also is a reminder that Charlie isn’t here and that part isn’t lost on any of us,” Ostling said.
The Red Cross recognized the group with the Public Service Award.
Neil Doyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org