WANE 15

Police: Trucker in school bus crash had been drinking

WARSAW, Ind. (WANE) – Warsaw police said Chicago students are now in stable condition after being injured in a Saturday night crash. Three student-athletes were initially in critical condition after a semi hit the bus that was carrying a Chicago high school hockey team. 13 others suffered injuries, and 10 people had no injuries.

Police said the bus had 26 people on it in total, including two coaches, the bus driver, and the high school hockey team from St. Ignatius College Prep out of Chicago, Illinois. The bus was in Indiana for the weekend for a hockey tournament taking place in Culver. The team was having dinner in Warsaw and heading to a hotel at the time of the crash, according to police.

The crash happened just after 8 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 30 and Center Street. Before the crash happened, police were notified by dispatch of reports of a tractor-trailer swerving into other lanes and speeding, according to police.

Warsaw police officers were on their way to “intercept” the semi when they were notified it struck a school bus. Multiple first responders responded to the scene and it was determined multiple children were injured, according to police.

A nearby business showed WANE 15 surveillance video which caught the crash on Monday, but they opted not to publicly share the video due to the ongoing investigation.

The video shows the bus in the eastbound lanes making a left turn from US 30 onto Center Street. The video shows that the bus clearly had a green arrow to allow the turn.

Before the bus could make it all the way through the intersection, the semi came speeding through a red light and hit the back end of the bus, which caused the bus to spin nearly 180 degrees as it tipped over onto its side.

Medics transported two of the critically injured student-athletes to a hospital in Fort Wayne. Medics also transported the other critically injured student-athlete and other student-athletes injured were taken to a hospital in Warsaw. The remainder of the players, coaches, and the bus driver were taken to a Warsaw hospital via a Warsaw Community Schools bus, according to police.

The students are now all listed in stable condition, according to an update Sunday morning from Warsaw police. The president of St. Ignatius spoke with WGN-TV about the incident:

Police said the bus driver cooperated with investigators and consented to a blood draw due to the seriousness of the investigation.

The semi-driver continued west on U.S. 30 and came to a stop driving off the roadway, approximately an eighth of a mile from where the crash happened, according to police.

Photo of the semi involved in the crash, provided by the Warsaw Police Department

An initial investigation by police indicates one of the student-athletes was ejected from the bus. Warsaw police later confirmed the semi driver disregarded a red light by several seconds before striking the bus during its turn.

58-year-old Victor Santos

Police said they detected a strong odor of alcohol when they contacted the driver of the semi, as well as the driver having slurred speech. Warsaw Police officers then conducted an OWI investigation. The semi-driver failed a field sobriety test, according to police. Police asked the driver to consent to a chemical test, but police said he refused. A search warrant was applied and granted allowing them to take the driver to a hospital for a blood draw test. The driver has been identified as 58-year-old Victor Santos of Brooklyn, New York. He is currently charged with a felony operating while intoxicated, causing serious bodily injury.

Police said the ages of the student-athletes range between 14 and 17 years old with most being 15. All family members have been notified of the crash, according to police.

Santos’ truck had a logo for “N&V Express Trucking LLC” on its side. Online records show that company is based out of New Jersey and only has one truck and one driver.

WANE 15 attempted to call the number listed for the company twice. Both attempts resulted in messages that the number was not in service.

As of 4:30 Monday afternoon, online court records didn’t show any formal charges had been filed against Santos. A call to the Kosciusko Prosecutor’s Office was not returned.

The crash remains under investigation.