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Unit 5 Honors Crash Victim With Normal West Mural

Coach and Kathy
Mary Cullen
Normal West freshman girls basketball coach Steve Price hugs Kathy Crabtree under a new memorial dedicated to her late husband Charlie, the longtime team volunteer who died in last year's bus crash.

Normal West high school and the Unit 5 school district honored Charlie Crabtree with a permanent remembrance at the high school.

Crabtree was killed last December when a bus carrying the JV girls basketball team collided head-on with a semi. He was a longtime team volunteer and a passionate supporter of all of West’s athletics.

Kathy Crabtree, Charlie’s wife, visited the mural with the girls basketball team Wednesday night.

“The first time I saw it, it actually took my breath away,” she said. “It’s so beautiful, and just made my heart feel so good to see that Charlie was remembered in this way.”

Crabtree’s daughter, Nikki Segobiano, said Crabtree wouldn’t have expected the gesture.

“And I wouldn’t say he wouldn’t want it, he would tell people don’t make such a big deal out of him,” she explained. “He did what he loved, it was his passion. So he didn’t look at it as anything other than just doing what he loved.”

Coach Corey Ostling told the Unit 5 school board Wednesday that he is glad the district has put a focus on mental health and social-emotional learning, because he sees its impact every day in his team.

“You don’t go through something like that without it being significant for the rest of your life,” Ostling said. “So I’m incredibly proud of their progress, but it’s going to be a daily battle.”

He said the teammates lean on one another, picking each other up when one is feeling down.

Ostling was not on the bus, but rushed to the scene that night. Kathy Crabtree said he held her husband’s hand through it all.

Coach Steve Price suffered extensive injuries in the crash and spent weeks in the hospital. He said his recovery is going well and he is happy to be back working at West.

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