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Mourning Utah Band Wins Competition After Crash

Many in tears, members of the high school marching band that lost a teacher in a bus crash honored her by playing on and playing well, sweeping the awards at a regional competition.

Just days after the fatal crash, the American Fork High School band won top honors Tuesday in their school's division at the Rocky Mountain Marching Band Tournament.

The emotional, memorable performance was dedicated to woodwinds instructor Heather Christensen.

"Our hearts are full as we remember our friend and inspired colleague, who touched so many lives with her joy of life," said a statement from the band that was read during the competition at Brigham Young University. "Heather, we know you will keep the angels in heaven in time and in tune."

Christensen grabbed for the wheel when she noticed the bus driver had passed out on the trip home from a competition in Idaho on Saturday. The 33-year-old died when the bus crashed, but all of the students survived. A viewing for Christsensen is scheduled for Friday night and her funeral is Saturday at the Alpine tabernacle.

Many band members cried during the performance and as they marched off the field to a standing ovation and embraced in tearful hugs.

The program is called "The Greatest Generation" and intended to honor American veterans. The set was a series of patriotic songs and featured giant posters of memorable scenes from World War II. One of the large panels featured a photo of Christensen under the phrase:

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

Many believe Christensen's actions kept the crash from being any worse.

The band, one of Utah's best-known, has won 19 straight state titles and marched in national events including President George W. Bush's 2005 inauguration and the 2007 Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in New York.

Students met with band leaders at the school Sunday night and decided to play in the already-scheduled regional competition Tuesday.


Information from: Deseret News,