LITTLE ITALY — Parents, students and neighbors gathered Monday for a special mass in support of St. Ignatius College Prep’s JV hockey team, whose members were injured Saturday night after a semi track crashed into the team’s bus en route to a tournament in Indiana.
Sixteen students were hurt, three critically. Two students remained hospitalized on Monday and are expected to continue recovering there for three to five days, according to a school spokesperson.
The school provided counseling for students affected by the crash, officials said. Students also signed a team flag to present during mass as a sign of support for those injured.
Hockey players walked into mass together at Church of the Holy Family, 1080 W. Roosevelt Road, wearing their jerseys, receiving hugs from staff and friends as they arrived.
Several parents called the mass beautiful and calming.
“Because it’s such a close knit family, it’s just great to be among each other … and it was just a very grateful sentiment of support,” parent Frowene Rodgers said.
Rodger’s son, also a hockey player, was not on the bus that night but said he was getting updates from his fellow teammates following the crash.
“It’s been really hectic, but we’re all really supportive of each other,” student Moses Rodgers said. “We’re just keeping everyone in our thoughts and prayers he’s doing as much as we can to support them.
The crash happened around 8 p.m. Saturday. Police say they were warned that a semi-truck driver was swerving lanes and excessively speeding on a highway in Warsaw, Indiana, Warsaw Police Captain Brad Kellar said.
As officers were on their way, the truck ran a red light and hit the back of the hockey team’s school bus, knocking it onto its side, Kellar said. The truck driver continued driving off the roadway and came to a stop in a nearby ditch, Kellar said.
There were 23 students, two adult coaches and the bus driver on the school bus, Kellar said. They were traveling to participate in a weekend hockey tournament at Culver Military Academy in Indiana.
Sixteen of the 26 passengers were hurt in the crash. Three of the players were hospitalized Sunday after initially being listed in critical condition. At least one student was ejected from the bus because of the force of the crash, police said.
The driver, identified as 58-year-old Victor Santos, failed a sobriety test, police said.
Police charged Santos Monday night with four counts of causing serious bodily harm while operating a vehicle and 22 counts of criminal recklessness. His bond is set for $75,000, according to police.
“The 26 counts match the 26 victims of this crime. While thorough investigation has led to these charges, this investigation continues on behalf of the Kosciusko County Prosecutor, and additional charges or enhancements could follow in the future,” Kellar said in a statement.
“Some of these injuries are extremely serious and we continue to pray for the full recovery of all the students, coaches, and the bus driver who unfortunately fell victim to these crimes,” Kellar continued.
The rest of the junior varsity team’s season is on hold while students get the care and recovery that they need, athletic director Mike Hurley said.
“There’ll be an appropriate time to sit down and determine whether or not they’re going to have future games if they are able to continue their season,” Hurley said. “I think we’re going to sit and wait on that to make sure that we’re giving care to them.”
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