Late Thanksgiving afternoon, Terri Stanton had a text from her 19-year-old daughter. It wasn’t to wish the Lake Stevens mom a happy holiday.
“She texted, ‘Patrick and I are fine but one of our buses flipped,’” Stanton said Wednesday.
Elizabeth Stanton, a University of Washington sophomore, and her 21-year-old brother, Patrick, are in the Husky Marching Band. The day before last Friday’s Apple Cup in Pullman, they were on two separate buses traveling east on I-90.
Neither was on the band’s chartered bus that slid off the interstate near George and rolled onto its side just before 5:30 p.m. About 40 passengers were taken to hospitals; their injuries weren’t life-threatening.
Stanton said both of her daughter’s UW roommates were on the bus that crashed, and were “banged up and bruised.” Elizabeth’s mellophone, similar to a French horn, was on the bus too, but wasn’t damaged.
“It was not the Thanksgiving we anticipated,” said Stanton, a teacher at Arlington’s Haller Middle School.
The group didn’t play in Pullman, where Washington State University’s band performed the Husky fight song before the game. Husky band members spent a night in Moses Lake hotels after the people of Grant County treated them to dinner at George Elementary School.
What a difference a week makes. Elizabeth and Patrick Stanton, along with all their band mates well enough to go, boarded a California-bound charter flight Thursday.
On Friday, the Husky Marching Band will be back on a football field, at Levi’s Stadium. At the Pac-12 Championship in Santa Clara, the band will sound off with the same halftime program it had planned for Pullman.
“We’re not downplaying kids who are injured, but a phrase that’s been used is ‘a Thanksgiving miracle’ — that’s exactly what I would term it,” said Brad McDavid, director of the Husky Marching Band for 25 years. “It could have been far, far worse.”
Normally, McDavid said, the budget wouldn’t allow for the entire 240-member band to go to a Pac-12 Championship. Already, a pledge drive was on for Santa Clara. After what happened last week and with the support of UW Athletic Director Jen Cohen, McDavid said much of the band is going to Friday’s UW-Utah game. “Our hearts are a little heavy not to have the entire band family,” he said, explaining that some injured members weren’t cleared by doctors to participate.
“We’re excited they’re going to be down there, and so thankful everyone is safe,” said Jay Hilbrands, the UW’s assistant athletic director for public relations and communications. And win or lose Friday, the Huskies will play in some bowl game, Hilbrands said.
The Washington State Patrol ticketed the 36-year-old driver of the bus that rolled. She was cited for driving too fast for icy and slushy conditions, according to a State Patrol memo quoted in Spokane’s Spokesman-Review. Along with the $136 ticket, a $51 collision fee was levied, the newspaper said.
One passenger on a Husky band bus, but not the one that crashed, was Quincy High School Principal Marcus Pimpleton. From 1996 to 2001, he was in the Husky Marching Band as a trombone player and a drum major.
Now a field assistant with the Husky band, Pimpleton was on the fourth of six buses carrying the group on Thanksgiving, said John Boyd, Quincy School District superintendent. It was Pimpleton, Boyd said, who called 911 and helped with planning where band members would be taken.
The Quincy superintendent called a facilities director who called Carol Leibelt, the George Elementary School custodian. “She was phenomenal,” Boyd said. School staff came in on the holiday. Heat was turned on. The school kitchen opened.
As word spread, “people started showing up with Thanksgiving pies and leftover food,” Boyd said. “Ironically, we’re in Cougar country. People in Cougar outfits were feeding the Husky Marching Band.”
Later that night, another district employee helped deliver band instruments to students in Moses Lake, Boyd said. And Lynn Bales, director of Moses Lake Community Health Center in Quincy, arranged for mental health counselors to be available.
“It was a beautiful circumstance — people coming together to support people in need,” Boyd said. “With all the negative we hear, there’s so much good in the world.”
Patrick Stanton, a UW senior and trombone player, is on track to graduate with a degree in political science.
His Nov. 23 Facebook post is a video from the University of Florida’s Gator Band. On the Gators’ field, it shows orange-clad students spread out in the shape of a U.S. map. A cheer squad unfurls flags in a diagonal line, from Florida to Washington. “We’re sending band love from our corner of the country to yours,” one Florida student says.
Sharing the video, Patrick commented on Facebook: “This is so sweet I might actually cry.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; [email protected]