CHICAGO (WLS) — A man is charged with felonies after a semi crashed into the Saint Ignatius College Prep junior varsity hockey team’s bus over the weekend, injuring 16 student players.
The crash happened Saturday night in Warsaw, Indiana, about 50 miles south of South Bend. The team was heading to a hotel after competing in a tournament earlier in the day. Police said the semi was seen swerving and speeding around 8 pm
Twenty three student athletes from boys’ hockey team and two adult coaches were on board a bus when police said a speeding and swerving semi-truck slammed into them. Of the 16 injured, three were in critical condition and two remain hospitalized Monday.
“We’re grateful that they’re out of critical condition,” John Chandler, Saint Ignatius College Prep president, said. “They’re stable but they will have challenges ahead for healing.”
Victor Santos, 58, the driver of the semi, has been charged with four felony counts of causing serious bodily injury while operating a vehicle, and 22 felony counts of criminal recklessness while armed with a deadly weapon, Warsaw police said.
Bond has been set at $75,000. Police said the 26 counts of the indictment “match the 26 victims of this crime.”
Warsaw police said the Santos failed a field sobriety test. Police also said more charges were possible.
Monday, Saint Ignatius held a special Mass for the victims of the crash and the student body in general.
“Obviously this is a very traumatic event, but I think it’s shown a lot of good in the hockey community in general and our school community, just everyone’s been so supportive,” said varsity hockey player Jack Rhyner.
Varsity hockey players at St. Ignatius College Prep walked into school Monday morning with their jerseys on or in hand.
“I just wanna show support for the team, support for my brothers and yeah just do anything I can to make those guys feel better and know that I care and that everybody cares for them,” Jack Rhyner, student and varsity hockey player said.
“There is definitely tears. They’re worried about their teammates that are still in the hospital. That’s their primary concern,” said Spencer Montgomery, hockey director. “The first emotion is really shock. It’s an unbelievably scary moment, especially for 14 to 17 years old to experience that.”
While students and teachers alike are still reeling from the crash, they are grateful for the outpouring of support, which came from all corners of the city including from the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Saint Ignatius varsity team takes the ice again Thursday. Charlie Reif, a junior whose younger brother was on the bus but escaped serious injury, said they’ll be playing for the junior varsity team.
“Playing for all them. Every shift, every practice, every game for the rest year and the next year when I’m a senior, just think about I’m playing for them,” he said.
Students were still in shock Monday morning.
“I’m just gonna pray that everyone makes a full recovery,” student Natalie Olech said. “I’m really glad that we can come together as a school community.”
Meanwhile, there has been an outpouring of support for the Jesuit Catholic school on the Near West Side. The longtime Chicago institution will come together in prayer Monday afternoon.
“So this afternoon we invite our St. Ignatius community and the public to join us at our Church of the Holy Family next door as we give thanks to God for a situation that could have been much more tragic,” Chandler said.
Meanwhile, one St. Ignatius parent who has also handled numerous trucking negligence cases as an attorney is offering legal counsel and guidance to the families.
One Saint Ignatius parent is doing what she can to help. Not only is she a mother of two St. Ignatius students, but she is also an attorney who has handled numerous trucking negligence cases, serves as the Senate appointee to the “Move Over Task Force” and has tested before the House for stricter trucking laws
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