Normal West High School remembers volunteer involved in fatal I-74 crash

    Pictured is Charlie Crabtree. (Credit: Dayna Brown)

    Charlie Crabtree was one of the victims involved in the I-74 school bus crash involving student athletes Wednesday night.

    Normal West High School said in a Facebook post, in part,

    "...We are so sad to see the passing of a great Wildcat volunteer, Charlie Crabtree. Charlie had a special way of connecting to every student he met. This is a great loss for our school."

    Crabtree was a school volunteer and was traveling with the basketball team that was on the school bus prior to the crash.

    Normal West High School Teacher April Schermann said Crabtree was kind, generous and giving.

    In a statement, Schermann said he will be missed by many. The statement can be read below:

    Charlie is a special man to many people and will be missed greatly. Charlie Crabtree was kind, generous, and giving. He was a devoted supporter of Normal West athletics. He volunteered for girls basketball by announcing and doing the scorebook at away games and announcing at the softball games as well as riding the bus with the softball team to away games. Charlie LOVED his Wildcats. During our 2016 IHSA State Softball Series, Charlie rode the bus with us to every game and cheered us on along the way. I can still hear Charlie's cheer as he would try to pump everyone up at the games - "Westside Wildcats! Eat 'em up, eat 'em up!" Charlie always had special treats for the players and opponents - bubble gum or candy. He was certainly everyone's "proud grandpa." The legacy of Charlie Crabtree - a servant leader, with a kind and generous heart, always helping others.

    Crabtree and the students were returning home on the bus from a game at Champaign Central at the time of the crash.

    School staff were at Normal West High School late Wednesday after the crash, on hand for support for students and staff.

    Illinois State Police confirmed Crabtree's death shortly after the crash.

    ISP said the crash occurred at 8:32 p.m. Wednesday night on I-74 at milepost 137 after a semi truck collided with a school bus carrying Normal West Community High School Junior Varsity Girls Freshman Basketball Team members.

    The semi truck was traveling the wrong way and hit the bus head-on.

    The semi truck driver and two others were airlifted from the scene - the coach, the semi truck driver and the bus driver and taken to St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill.

    Eight Normal West Junior Varsity Girls Basketball players were taken to local hospitals with non-life threatening injuries and were later released from the hospital.

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