Browning presents Whitefish with memorial quilt

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Browning High School presented Whitefish High School with a quilt Thursday evening during the Browning and Whitefish boys basketball game. The quilt is in memory of those lost in the 1984 Whitefish wrestling bus cash that claimed the lives of nine. The Whitefish team was returning from a wrestling dual in Browning when the bus collided head-on with the pup trailer of a jackknifed fuel-tanker in the eastbound lane of an icy U.S. Highway 2 near Essex. The collision led to an explosion and a fire. (Photo courtesy John Anderson)

Honoring the nine people who died in a 1984 bus crash, Browning High School gifted a memorial quilt to the Whitefish School District last Thursday prior to a basketball game between the two teams.

The crash occurred in January of 1984 after a Whitefish school bus collided with a fuel tanker in a snowstorm on U.S. Highway 2.

The bus was carrying the Bulldogs wrestling team home from a match in Browning. Victims of the accident included the driver of the bus, three cheerleaders, coaches and family members.

Several Whitefish parents sent photos and videos of the ceremony to the Pilot.

Presenting the quilt prior to Thursday night’s boys basketball game, Blackfeet Chief Earl Old Person spoke on the events that occurred 34 years ago.

“In memory are the young people that came to Browning to be part of a sports activity, and some of those ... failed to make it back home,” he said.

“I know there’s no words that we can use to comfort people, but we can show our appreciation.”

Staff members from Browning carried the quilt out to center court to present it to the Whitefish basketball coaches.

Boys basketball coach Sean Duff on Monday said the atmosphere in the Browning gym was amazing during the ceremony.

“It means a lot to the local people in Whitefish. There’s a lot of people who realize the effect it still has in our community,” boys basketball coach Sean Duff said.

“It was humbling to the kids too, kind of an eye-opener. It was a pretty neat experience for them and afterwards, just to realize basketball is a small deal when you’re thinking of nine people who lost their lives.”

High School Principal Kerry Drown said the school is looking at different ways to honor and display the gift.

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