Remembering the school bus crash victims
The four Lakeview School students killed in Tuesday's school bus crash near Cottonwood, Minn., were Emilee Olson, brothers Hunter Javens and Jesse Javens, and Reed Stevens. Relatives and friends share memories of the children.
EMILEE OLSON, 9
Charles and Traci Olson of Cottonwood adopted Emilee in China when she was 10 months old. Relatives said first sight meant everything.
"She looked up at Traci from the floor, and their eyes met, and you knew that it was meant to be from that moment on," said Terri Hutchinson, Emilee's aunt and Traci's sister, who joined Traci in China.
Emilee was already crawling, strong and vibrant that day, her aunt said.
"She sang in choir, learned to play piano and picked up pieces real easily," Hutchinson said. "Her sister Bailee played, and she could pretty much play the (song) right away.
"She was energetic, fun, loving. Loved life. Very talented with a smile on her face all the time. She lit up a room. Such a beautiful young girl with so much left."
Emilee's mother is a physical education teacher at the school.
HUNTER JAVENS, 9
Hunter loved basketball, football, wrestling and baseball. He also liked video games, drawing and hanging out with his friends. Friends described him as a happy-go-lucky kid.
Hunter was a fourth grader at Lakeview School. He and brother Jesse were the sons of Marty and Rita Javens of Cottonwood.
Robert Javens, a great uncle to Hunter and Jesse, said the boys "were just typical kids."
"They weren't no angels and they weren't no devils. They were normal kids."
JESSE JAVENS, 13
Jesse was a big pro wrestling fan and could be the class clown at times. The seventh-grader liked hunting and being on the middle school football team.
"It hit everybody in the town really hard, but especially this family, with two of them gone," said Terry Lange, ex-brother-in-law of the boys' father, Marty Javens.
In addition, Lange said, Hunter has a twin sister, and there are four older siblings in the blended family.
"All you can do is just be with them," he said of the family members. "Everybody is still in shock."
REED STEVENS, 12
Reed was remembered as outgoing, with an interest in sports, leadership and a strong faith.
The seventh-grader was the son of Dan and Kandy Stevens of Marshall.
"Reed was a young man who loved God, his country and his family. And he also loved his football family. We know that he is with the Lord," his mother, a former teacher at the school, said in a statement read by Superintendent Sheldon Johnson.
Reed had helped organize a "gather at the pole" prayer event at Lakeview School, and was planning for a trip to Australia as a People to People student ambassador this summer.
"He had a lot of imagination," friend Quinn Fenger said. "He liked to draw a lot of fantasy stuff."
There's now a memorial fund in place at a bank in Cottonwood for the families of the four students.
Contributions can be sent to:
Lakeview School Memorial Fund
c/o United Southwest Bank
PO Box 288
Cottonwood, MN 56229-0288
---Information from the Marshall Independent
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
- Morning Edition, 02/22/2008, 7:25 a.m.