Police in Warsaw, Indiana, have released information on a Saturday night crash involving a school bus transporting members of a high school hockey team.
The incident began shortly after 8 p.m. on November 12 as the Warsaw Police Department (WPD) received reports of a semi truck with New Jersey registration driving at excessive speed and swerving into other lanes.
Callers reported that the semi truck was driving off the road as it neared the Warsaw city limits on westbound U.S. 30.
Two minutes later, as officers were on their way to intercept, they were advised that the suspect semi had just struck a school bus at the intersection of Center St. and the bus was on its side. Multiple first responders converged on the intersection as it was quickly determined to have multiple injuries to youth. The semi driver continued west and came to a stop driving off the roadway into the ditch an eighth of a mile from the intersection.
Police believe that the semi truck driver “disregarded a red light by several seconds before striking the bus during its turn.”
WPD said that the semi struck the bus in the right rear, resulting in the ejection of at least one student.
Upon contacting the semi driver, officers had reason to suspect alcohol was a factor in this collision. They detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and in the cab of the semi, as well as slurred speech. Warsaw officers began an OWI investigation. After failing standardized field sobriety tests, the driver was asked to consent to a chemical test but refused. A search warrant was applied for and granted, allowing officers to have hospital staff take a blood draw, which will be submitted for official testing. That suspect, out of New York, is currently being held on a 48-hour hold put in place by the Kosciusko County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for formal charges pertaining to Operating While Intoxicated, Causing Serious Bodily Injury, a level 5 felony.
WPD later identified the truck driver as 58 year old Brooklyn, New York, resident Victor Santos.
Police said that 23 students and 2 coaches were on board the bus when the crash occurred. Sixteen of the bus passengers were injured. Of those 16 injuries, three are considered critical.
The hockey players were members of the Saint Ignatius JV Hockey Team who were participating in a a weekend hockey tournament taking place in Culver.
Agencies assisting the investigation include the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office, Kosciusko County F.A.C.T. investigators, Indiana State Police, Winona Lake Police, Mentone Police, Warsaw-Wayne Township Fire, North Webster Fire and EMS, Lutheran EMS, and Parkview Hospital EMS, and Warsaw Community Schools, as well as the Kosciusko County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Police say that the investigation is ongoing and additional charges could be added.