Campus News

Jazz students speak out for first time since bus accident

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While traveling to a performance on Friday, Feb. 21, 18 Jazz Ensemble students were involved in an accident near Grand Rapids, Mich. that killed one person. The accident happened around 10 a.m. While no Bethel students or chaperones were injured in the crash, one passenger in the other car was pronounced dead on the scene. The day aftaer the crash, some of the students spoke publicly for the first time in an exclusive interview with The Bethel Beacon. It was a harrowing experience, one that students will never forget. fatal-accident "I witnessed it, so it was really hard for me," said jazz student Jolene Rashley. "I mean, it still bothers me, just because that man was living and the very next second he was gone." Even before the crash, the weather had been causing some tense moments. "Visibility was really bad," said senior saxophone player Becky Miko. "It was not a good time to be out on the road." Rashley said, "The weather was really bad. There were lots of white outs, so there were lots of accidents on the road already. A driver was trying to go around this one accident, and lost control of the car and it spun out, and before the bus driver could do anything, we t-boned him. He tried to hit the brakes and swerve off, but by that time it didn't really make a difference." After the initial shock of the crash, the group had to make a decision about whether to continue with their initial plans to perform. "We weren't sure if we would go on or not," Miko said. "Everyone was nervous and tense about the performance." Eventually, after making sure the students were okay mentally and physically, the decision was made to continue for the performance. However, plans had drastically changed. "We got to the school late," Miko said. "We had no time to warm up; basically we just had to change and perform right away when we got there." "(We were) supposed to (arrive at the school) between 2 - 3 p.m., but we got there at 6 p.m. and the concert was supposed to start at 7 p.m.," Junior trombone player Sarah Jordan said. It took a lot of resolve, but the students performed despite their heavy hearts. They were pleased to just make it through the event. "For everything that went on that day, the performance was okay," Jordan said. An email was sent out from President Chenoweth to the Bethel community at around 5 p.m. that day, stating what had happened and assuring people that steps would be taken to help in the grieving process. Counseling services were prepared for any students who wanted them upon return. "It was definitely a shock. It shook us up," Miko said.
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