Charlie Crabtree was a super-fan at the school, others say.
Crabtree was with the girls JV basketball team last night on I-74 in Normal, when a semi truck going the wrong way slammed into their school bus head on. State police are still investigating why the truck driver–who was also killed–was going the wrong way.
“Charlie loved all athletes and coaches at Normal West but true love and passion was girls basketball,” a speaker said at the game.
Eight members on the team escaped with non-life-threatening injuries. The assistant coach remains in the hospital with fractures but is on the road to recovery.
Crabtree, 72, had been a school volunteer for years and became close to the players.
The community calls his death a great loss to all.
“(He was) such a wonderful giving man,” parent Courtney Grose said. “So supportive of our kids. (It’s) a sad loss for everybody.”
Parent Angela Hammes echoed those sentiments.
“My heart does hurt for his family,” she said. “Last night was rough for my daughter.”
Crabtree’s family wasn’t in the crowd Thursday, but they say he would’ve wanted the girls to play and he’d be yelling “Go Wildcats!”