Alcohol likely a factor in crash involving school bus and semitruck in Warsaw

NOW: Alcohol likely a factor in crash involving school bus and semitruck in Warsaw

KOSCIUSKO COUNTY, Ind. --- What started as a call to report a reckless semitruck driver, just minutes later ended in collision on Saturday night.

A school bus full of 23 teenaged hockey players and two coaches from Chicago flipped on its side after being struck by a semi running a red light at the intersection of Center Street and U.S. 30 in Warsaw.

Out of the 16 total injuries, three were critical, but now all are in stable condition.

“All of them will be returning to health, but some much longer than others,” says John Chandler, President of Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, where the hockey players attend school.

Fifty-eight year-old Victor Santos of Brooklyn, New York was behind the wheel of the semi, and officials believe he had been drinking.

“This case certainly starts with early reports evidencing that the driver failed the field sobriety test,” says Jack Casciato, a Clifford Law Offices partner with expertise in trucking cases.

On-scene investigators noted the “strong odor of an alcoholic beverage” coming from Santos, along with slurred speech and failed sobriety tests. He could face a level five felony, with charges pertaining to operating while intoxicated and causing serious bodily injury.

“The level of recklessness, if it is proven that he was under the influence, to put yourself behind a wheel and bring that sort of level of danger to other motorists,” Casciato says.

Casciato adds that if Santos has a previous track record of substance abuse, the trucking company may be the one to blame for allowing him on the roads.

“What knowledge did the trucking company have as to any substance issues that this driver had?” Casciato asks. “It’s certainly reckless to employ someone if it is in fact proven that this driver had substance issues in the past.”

For the Saint Ignatius Wolfpack hockey team, their weekend tournament in Indiana ended in tragedy.

“Here we see student athletes simply enjoying the game that they love, their lives are forever changed because a man decided to go forward with that course of conduct,” says Casciato.

“Right now, prayer is the most important thing,” Chandler says.

Officials say this is still an active investigation and additional charges may be added against Santos based on the conclusion of the investigation.

A representative from Saint Ignatius College Prep says they are planning a mass on Monday in honor of those affected by the tragic crash.

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