Memorial service honors Bluffton bus crash victims 10 years later

BLUFFTON, OH (WTOL) - Emotions were running high and there were many tears today at Bluffton University took time to remember a terrible tragedy. There was a big turnout next to the baseball diamond to remember what happened in Atlanta ten years ago.

Members of the Bluffton baseball team walked up to the Circle of Remembrance, a memorial next to the baseball field, for a memorial service.

The focus was on five players who died in the bus crash, Zachary Arend, David Betts, Scott Harmon, Cody Holp, and Tyler Williams.

"This is a special day at Bluffton. March 2 is a day with deep significance," said Bluffton University president Dr. James Harder at the memorial.

The current team was joined by university staff, community members, and family to mark the somber ten year anniversary.

James Grandey tried to hold back tears. He was seriously injured in the crash and recovered and is still the Bluffton baseball coach.

"I can't just say it's another day. For those of us that were involved in the accident, we live these feelings and emotions almost every day whether it's a pain that we have or a memory that comes to us," said Grandey, after the service.

As the names of the players killed were read, Tim Berta reflected on surviving his devastating injuries.

"I am alive. I was given a tremendous gift by the grace of God because science says I should be dead so it's, I treat it like a gift," said Grandley, after the service.

Members of the 2017 team were only 10 or 11 years old when the tragedy happened.

But senior pitcher Austin Every says they all know what was lost.

"Coach Grandey had a first responder come talk to us and explain some things that had happened to the players and it's something I can't wrap my head around and I wish upon no one," said Every.

The Bluffton baseball team will wear black jerseys for some of their games this year with a special patch, to remember the 2007 team and the players who died.

Berta was impressed by how the current team is remembering the 2007 team.

"I thought I would be forgotten by now. But we're not!" said Berta.

Two other people were killed in the Atlanta crash, bus driver Jerry Niemeyer and his wife Jean.

Investigators believe Niemeyer mistook an exit lane for what he thought was a carpool lane. The bus traveled up the exit lane and crashed over a barrier, and then fell onto the interstate below and flipped on its side.

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