Chippewa Falls band teacher remembers, celebrates lives lost in - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Chippewa Falls band teacher remembers, celebrates lives lost in 2005 bus crash


Chippewa Falls (WQOW) - Painful reminders of a bus crash are engraved in Brian Collicott's memory nearly 10 years later.

Collicott said when he hears the names Doug, Therese, Brandon, Morgan or Paul, he's reminded of the fateful night in mid-October of 2005. "I see a charter bus, or if I think of it, if I hear a helicopter I think of it, if I smell diesel I think of it, because we were all covered in diesel."

On Oct. 16, 2005, one of five charter buses taking more than 200 students and staff members back from a state marching band competition in Whitewater, crashed into an overturned semi on Interstate 94 near Osseo. Collicott said, "It was just an eerie silence until people started to cry and ask for help. I could see that it wasn't good, and I could see that people were dead."

Five lives were taken in that crash. "We lost some really great people, Doug Greenhalgh. He taught for many years at the high school. His wife (Therese Greenhalgh), his granddaughter (Morgan Greenhalgh), my student teacher from UW-Eau Claire (Brandon Atherton) and the driver (Paul Rasmus)."

As the 10 year anniversary of the Chi-Hi marching band bus crash nears on Friday, Collicott hopes others will remember the tragedy and celebrate the lives that were taken all too soon. "I think it's always good to keep in our memory," Collicott said. "I don't think it's so much about that anymore. It's about getting together and telling stories and having a good time and celebrating those people."

One day after the anniversary, Chippewa Falls High School students will return to Whitewater for Saturday's marching band competition. Because of the accident, students and staff spend the night in a school gymnasium in Sun Prairie rather than making the drive home late at night.

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