A group of hockey players, parents, and two coaches from St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago have filed a lawsuit over a crash that injured 16 students. School Bus Fleet previously reported that the team was on its way back from a weekend hockey tournament when a semi-truck struck the school bus after running a red light.
On Nov. 12, Warsaw police received reports of the truck swerving into other lanes and speeding. WANE reported that while officers were on their way to "intercept" the truck, the driver struck the school bus and reportedly continued driving, finally coming to a stop about an eighth of a mile from the scene of the crash. The investigation indicated at least one of the student-athletes was ejected from the bus. There were 26 people total onboard the bus.
School officials said one student remains hospitalized, while a few others have yet to return to school due to injuries sustained in the crash.
The driver, identified as Victor Santos, was charged with 26 felony counts of operating while intoxicated, causing serious bodily injury, and and criminal recklessness while armed with a deadly weapon. His blood alcohol level was .13%, almost twice the legal limit in Indiana, at the time of the crash.
Concerns Over Driver's Job History
The group joined attorneys with the Cavanagh Law Group in announcing the three-count civil suit against Santos at a news conference. The parents argued Santos should not have been hired for the job he was performing, due to his job history. According to the attorneys, Santos has previously been charged with failure to comply with federal motor carrier safety regulations and failure to register under the unified carrier registration system in Indiana.
The suit names Santos and the following trucking companies -- N&V Trucking Express, B&W Cartage Company, Inc., B&W Cartage, Inc., and B&W Cartage International, Inc. It accuses the defendants of negligence and willful and wanton disregard for the safety of the players and coaches aboard the bus.
"We're looking for answers, because we want (Santos) off the road," said St. Ignatius varsity coach Jeff Rogers. His son is on the junior varsity team and was in the school bus when the crash happened. "We want to make sure this sort of thing never happens to any other school, any other team, any other group of young men or women that have to ever go through something like this."
Attorneys said they will be in the courtroom when Santos has a hearing on Jan. 9, showing support for the victims. They are calling for Santos' bond to remain the same. According to inmateinfo.com, his bond is $77,500. Attorneys announced they are prepared to take the case to trial in Indiana.
"As a child, everyone has been on a school bus. As a parent, you've sent your kids on field trips. You've sent them to tournaments. You think that your child is going to be safe," said Eileen Murphy, one of the students' mothers. "There needs to be accountability in this. That man should never have been able to drive a semi-truck and hit our school bus."