The Normal community cherished the memory of a man who made his life about helping students.
72-year-old Charlie Crabtree, Normal West High School volunteer was traveling home from an away game with the Normal West girls basketball team when the bus they were on was hit head-on by a semi-truck.
The girls and bus driver survived, but the Crabtree died along with the semi-truck driver.
Friday, the Normal West softball team played in their season opener. The team was there hoping to get the big win, but also to honor Charlie.
Lauren Adcock, a member of the varsity softball team and Charlie’s niece, said she was saddened by his loss.
“He was like my inspiration for softball, he got me going with my softball career so him not being here is sad, but I know he’s watching us from above,” Adcock said.
Courtney Dyson, a parent, said the team has heavy hearts because Charlier was their biggest cheerleader.
“I look at his life and I hope that I have lived half Of the life that that man has lived, he is such a gentle kind human being, he loved everybody.,” Dyson said.
Although Charlie wasn’t related to everyone he impacted, his daughter Candace Jablonski, said the community was his family.
“He treated everybody the same and no matter who you were what you did that’s just who he was he treated everybody like they were his family,” Jablonski said.
Unfortunately, losing Charlie wasn’t the only tragedy Normal West faced.
“Having Livy and Charlie pass away just a couple months apart was really devastating for our team and we are working and coming back from that and it’s been a struggle but I say it’s been pretty good,” Adcock said.
Olivia Sonetz, the former second base softball player, died in a car accident last March, changing the lives of her schoolmates forever.
“First I thought we were very broken, but it helped us come together as a team an now we’re stronger than ever,” Adcock said.
The softball team will forever remember Olivia’s vibrant energy and carry her spirit with them each game.
Normal West is also remembering Charlie with the hashtag “Live-Like-Charlie,” hoping that people will choose to live life the way he did.