Coordinating Memorial at Deadliest Traffic Accident Site
We are all very proud of Tim for this. Below are excerpts from the Greeley Tribune, the Rocky Mountain News and 9News coverage on the story.
GREELEY, CO – Three years ago, Timothy Geisick visited the site of a
school bus accident that took the lives of his aunt and uncle before he ever had a chance to meet them. On Dec. 14, 1961, 20 school children from Greeley, about 50 miles north of Denver, were killed when a southbound train collided with a Greeley-Evans school District bus.
There was really no evidence of where it happened because the road has been moved, and I wondered where it had all taken place,” said Geisick. “It bothered me that nothing was there.” After hearing a radio commercial about the Rocky Mountain News series on the accident, he decided to try to raise money to erect a monument. Geisick received numerous donations from locals as well as from 20 other states and even from Germany.
Over 200 people attended the unveiling of the memorial on August 26, including one of the survivors of the crash, Geisick’s cousin Randy, who was eight at the time of the crash.
“He wasn’t very vocal about it, but he came all the way from California, so I think it must have been important to him,” said Geisick.
Near the intersection of County Road 53 and County Road 42, outside of Greeley, a school bus was hit as it crossed the railroad tracks. There were 36 children on board. Twenty of them were killed when the train hit the bus, splitting it in two.
“I watched the glass fly. I watched the roof come down on the kids,” said Gary Munson, who survived the crash. “I could see the bus rolling, but couldn’t hear it or feel it. It became quiet and dark, after the train hit.”
Up until now, Munson and many other survivors haven’t shared their story. Many community members remained quiet and grieved only in private.
“It was a very different time, back then,” said Randy Geisick, who also survived the crash.
“Nobody ever really talked about it,” added Munson.
But then, the Rocky Mountain news did an in-depth series on the accident. The series was simply called “The Crossing.” Timothy Geisick read the articles. They inspired him to build a memorial to the children who died on that fateful day.
“The thing that bothered me when I was out here by myself is the children need to be remembered, in the place where it happened.”
One year after the accident, the railroad crossing was removed. A 2-and-a-half ton granite memorial now stands at that very spot.
“We never thought it would happen,” said Loretta Ford. Her son, Jimmy, was killed in the crash. “Years have passed by… It’s been a long time.”
Juanita Larson also lost her son, Steve, in the accident. She thinks this new memorial will give a new sense of healing, despite the passing decades.
“It puts a real personal touch that everybody will remember,” Larson said.
Visiting the memorial will be a way to remember her son; one that she’ll add to what’s become a tradition every time she sees a train.
“I always say a prayer,” said Larson.