WARSAW, Ind. — The families of 16 members of a high school hockey team, along with their two coaches, have filed a lawsuit after a semi-truck driver crashed into a school bus in northern Indiana on Nov. 12.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in Kosciusko County, names 58-year-old Victor Santos, of Brooklyn, New York; N&V Trucking Express; and B&W Cartage Company as the defendants.
The families are suing for negligence, punitive damages and negligence per se. The plaintiffs are also requesting a jury trial.
On Nov. 12, dispatchers were notified shortly after 8 p.m. of a semi-truck swerving into other lanes and driving at excessive speeds. The truck was also reportedly driving off the road as it entered Warsaw on U.S. 30.
Police said two minutes later, as officers were on their way to stop the truck, they were told the semi had hit a school bus at U.S. 30 and Center Street and the bus was flipped on its side. The semi-driver continued west and stopped off the road and into a ditch about an eighth of a mile from the intersection.
When police first talked to Santos after the crash, he said the school bus had pulled out in front of him. When he was asked to step out of the truck, police said Santos stumbled and they smelled alcohol on his breath. Police claim Santos failed a field sobriety test and refused to take a chemical test at the scene.
During his booking, court documents claim Santos took a breathalyzer test and it came back at .13% when the legal limit is .08%.
He has been charged with 26 felony counts:
- Four counts of causing serious bodily injury when operating a vehicle while intoxicated
- 22 counts of criminal recklessness committed with a deadly weapon
13News has also learned Santos is a sexually violent offender and is a registered sex offender. He was also charged in Indiana previously with failure to comply with federal motor carrier safety regulations and failure to register under the unified carrier registration system.
Investigators believe at least one student was ejected from the bus when the semi-truck hit it from behind.
First responders rushed to the area and began attending to multiple injuries, ranging from critical to minor.
The school bus was carrying members of Chicago's Saint Ignatius College Prep's hockey team when it crashed. The team was returning to their hotel after a game against Culver Academies.
There were 23 players between the ages of 14 and 17 on the bus, with the majority of those players being 15 years old. There were also two adult coaches and the bus driver on the bus.
A total of 13 students were injured in the crash, WNDU reported. Two students were sent to Fort Wayne Lutheran Hospital with critical injuries. Another critically injured student was taken to Lutheran Kosciusko County.
The remaining players, coaches and the bus driver were taken by a bus, provided by Warsaw Community Schools, to Lutheran Kosciusko County.
Since the crash, school leaders say two of the teens' conditions have stabilized and one is now out of the hospital.
Witnesses told police that Santos' truck nearly ran them off the road at one point and that, as they followed, it hit speeds of 80 to 85 mph on U.S. 30. They said they saw it run a red light and hit the school bus without slowing down or trying to swerve.
Police were able to determine the school bus had a green arrow and the semi had a red light.