The family of one of two teens killed in a bus crash on Vancouver Island is remembering her as an adventurous spirit who hoped to help change the world.
It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime for Emma Machado.
The 18-year-old aspiring biologist from Winnipeg was so keen on visiting Bamfield’s Marine Sciences Centre, she’d gotten up early to make sure she got on the University of Victoria field trip’s sign-up list.
Instead, it ended in tragedy when the bus carrying 45 students left a logging road about 40 kilometres south of Port Alberni Friday night, killing her and John Geerdes, a fellow 18-year-old student from Iowa City, Iowa. Seventeen other students were sent to hospital.
“She was really excited to be by the ocean, to live the island life, to get to be somewhere that really cares about the environment,” Machado’s sister Sam told Global News by phone from Winnipeg.
“She really wanted to make a difference for the environment, she was really passionate about conservation.”
WATCH BELOW: B.C. bus crash tragedy
Machado’s father Jose and mother Ethel MacIntosh remember their daughter as strong-willed, adventurous and keen to see where her life would take her.
“She was very generous, very passionate about her interests,” MacIntosh said.
“She got out to meet people, made a lot of friends quite easily,” her father added.
Machado had only been in B.C. since Sept. 1, but had quickly made friends and was settling into college life, her parents said.
The family had been slated to check in with her on Sunday night about her adventure to the West Coast.
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Instead, on Saturday morning, they were greeted with the scene every parent dreads.
“The city police showed up at the door on Saturday morning, around 11 a.m.,” Jose said.
“We hadn’t heard anything about it. We hadn’t tried to text her. You know, just kind of giving her space. So we were completely shocked.”
Sam was still in Halifax, where she attends university, meaning the family had to deliver the grim news over the phone.
“My mom called one of my friends I guess, just to make sure that I wasn’t alone,” Sam said.
“And then I was trying to get home as fast as possible.”
WATCH BELOW: Road safety questioned after fatal bus crash near Bamfield
The tragedy has also left the family with questions.
“My main question after watching the news is why the bus had to leave that evening for the road trip,” Jose said.
“My understanding is companies in Port Alberni will not drive that road after dark, they only do their driving during the daylight hours.”
The family said they believe wet and stormy conditions in the area may also have contributed to the collision.
Police are looking at any potential role the driver may have had in the crash, but said alcohol has been ruled out as a contributing factor.
The BC Coroners Service is also investigating.
The devastated family is preparing to come to British Columbia on Tuesday to collect their daughter and bring her home for a celebration of life on the weekend.
MacIntosh said they’re also hoping to meet some of Machado’s college friends who want to share memories, and plan to participate in a gathering at the university.
“She’ll be with us forever,” MacIntosh said.