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Message to UW-Eau Claire Community
from Interim Chancellor Vicki Lord Larson:

Bus Crash Impacts UW-Eau Claire

(Also see Oct. 19 message from Interim Chancellor Larson.)

Oct. 17, 2005

Branden Atherton
Branden Atherton

The tragic crash of a bus transporting the Chippewa Falls High School marching band has not only deeply affected Chippewa Falls but also the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus community.

Five people, including UW-Eau Claire student Branden Atherton and UW-Eau Claire alumnus Douglas Greenhalgh, died in the crash early Sunday morning as the band was returning home following a competition in Whitewater.

In addition, five UW-Eau Claire students and another alumnus were injured in the crash.

Our thoughts are with the families and friends of those killed and injured. The university has been in contact with the families and is offering support as needed.

Branden Atherton, 24, a senior music education major from Waukesha, was a student teacher at Chippewa Falls High School. He was the drum major for the UW-Eau Claire Blugold Marching Band for two years and was instrumental in assisting with the rapid growth of the university's band in recent years. Douglas Greenhalgh, 48, was director of the Chippewa Falls High School marching band and received his master's degree in education-professional development from UW-Eau Claire in 1998.

Branden’s sister, Katie Atherton, 21, is a senior communication major at UW-Eau Claire.

Also killed in the collision on Interstate 94 just north of Osseo were Greenhalgh's wife, Therese Greenhalgh, 51, Chippewa Falls; the couple's granddaughter, Morgan Greenhalgh, 11; and the bus driver, Paul Rasmus, 78, Chippewa Falls.

Students injured in the crash were all providing teaching support for the Chippewa Falls High School marching band.

The injured students are Amy Bowen, 22, a senior music major from Chippewa Falls; Jessica Rozga, 21, a junior management major from Franklin; Andrew Sazama, 20, a sophomore music major from Chippewa Falls; Ruth Weiland, 19, a sophomore biology major from Chippewa Falls; and Ryan M. Wilson, 23, a senior music major from Chippewa Falls. Authorities tell us all have non-life threatening injuries including broken bones, cuts and bruises. Amy Bowen, Jessica Rozga and Ruth Weiland remain hospitalized in Eau Claire, Marshfield and the Twin Cities, respectively. Andrew Sazama and Ryan Wilson were treated and released.

Also injured was alumnus Brian Collicott, 30, who received his bachelor’s degree in music education from UW-Eau Claire in 1998. He is the Chippewa Falls High School marching band assistant director.

Funeral and memorial services for those killed are still pending. As information becomes available, we will share it with the university community.

As always, our counseling services are available to affected faculty, staff and students. Specifically, counselors will be available to meet with the student teaching cohort from 4:30 to 6 p.m. today in the Ecumenical Religious Center, and Counseling Services will be open for extended hours from 7 to 9 p.m. today in OL 2122.

Again, please join me in offering the sympathies of our UW-Eau Claire family to all who have been touched by this tragedy, as well as our wishes for a complete recovery for those injured.

Interim Chancellor Vicki Lord Larson

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