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Normal West community remembers Charlie Crabtree during varsity basketball game Thursday.

NORMAL, Ill - A moment of silence fell over Normal West’s gym Thursday, in remembrance of Charlie Crabtree. Charlie was on a school bus with Normal West’s girl’s junior varsity team Wednesday when a semi traveling on the wrong side of the highway hit them, Charlie was killed.

With heavy hearts, the varsity team still played against Richwoods Thursday.

“I didn’t want to go into it, it was long night and I asked the girls and I asked Charles wife, and both of them unequivocally play,” said the school’s varsity coach Corey Ostling.

Crabtree was a team volunteer, and announcer at basketball games, his chair now sitting empty and his mic is untouched. “I remember he was one of those loyal people, loyal Normal West fans,” said Kathleen Lorenz. “It’s sad to see someone go like that.”

Though Charlie wasn’t in attendance at the game, many believed his spirit was still there.

Ostling added, “Charlie was here though, Charlie was who brought the fans in.”

Ahead of Thursday’s game against Richwoods, the two teams stood on the court hand in hand not as competitors, but instead as family.

“[They] just lost a family member, and that’s why we’re here to support our Big 12 conference rival, but yet in this situation we’re a part of a family,” said Richwoods Coach Todd Hursley.

Admission to the game was free and bouquets of flowers greeted the students and parents at the door. All of this was in remembrance of Charlie and a clear sign that he was well loved, and will be well missed.

Ostling said it will take time but the team will work to move forward after this horrific accident. “The girls have to continue to be there for each other,” the coach said. “It’s great to have the fans and teachers tonight, but basketball is a long and every game isn’t always this packed.”

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