John Matthew Geerdes (//) (April 14, 2001 – September 13, 2019) was an American athlete and student from Iowa City, Iowa. He died in a bus accident on a remote logging road between Port Alberni and Bamfield on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada in the night of September 13, 2019.
Early life and education
Geerdes was born on April 14, 2001 at Mercy Hospital, in Iowa City, Iowa to Mary Michele Murphy and Gregg Alan Geerdes. He was the third of five children and had two older brothers, Jonas and James "Jim", a younger sister, Katherine, and a younger brother, Jude. His family is Catholic, with maternal Irish Catholic ancestry and paternal Dutch Catholic ancestry. Geerdes attended Regina Catholic Elementary , Northwest Junior High, and was a 2019 graduate of Iowa City High School where he played soccer for four years, participated in mock trial, student senate, bowling, Business Professionals of America, cross-country, and swimming. He was studying marine biology at the University of Victoria, a public comprehensive research university located in the Greater Victoria municipalities of Oak Bay and Saanich, British Columbia, Canada.
Geerdes was very involved in soccer, playing on both his high school's team for four years, and a private youth club team, Iowa Soccer Club. He also ran cross country for four years and was on the swim team. For fun, he also joined the bowling team.
On Friday, September 13, 2019, Geerdes, forty-five other University of Victoria students, and two teaching assistants boarded a bus for the annual weekend field trip to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. The bus, a 2001 Prévost XL 2 — had recently passed a safety inspection and was equipped with seatbelts. At around 8 P.M. that evening, in heavy rain and darkness, the bus rolled over into a ditch on a gravel road near the Carmanah Main Junction, a few kilometers west of Francis Lake. The bus was tipped over and about six to nine meters down an embankment, resting against some trees, which seemed to have stopped it from rolling further down. Geerdes and a fellow student, Emma Machado, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, died on the scene. The first people to encounter the crash were Robert Dennis, the chief councillor for the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, and his wife, with whom he was driving home as he passed the crash. Since the area has no cellphone reception, it was about two hours before first responders showed up. The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre Victoria received a call for assistance about 10 p.m., sending two AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant helicopters and one de Havilland Canada DHC-5 Buffalo search-and-rescue aircraft from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Comox to help with the rescue effort. Three injured people were airlifted to Victoria General Hospital, while the rest of the passengers were taken on a schoolbus to a reception center set up by the City of Port Alberni at the Echo Community Centre. The next day, Saturday, September 14, 2019, the bus was towed away. Most of its windows were broken and its exterior was covered with dirt and mud.
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