An alleged drunk driver of a tractor trailer was arrested by police Saturday in northern Indiana after he allegedly ran a red light and crashed into a school bus carrying an out-of-state high school hockey team, knocking it onto its side and leaving more than a dozen people on board with injuries.
Victor Santos, 58, from Brooklyn, New York, crashed the New Jersey-registered tractor trailer into the right rear side of the school bus just after 8 p.m. on Saturday, at the intersection of the U.S. 30 freeway and Center Street, where the bus was making a turn, officials said.
After being hit, the bus flipped onto its side, ejecting at least one student, while Santos kept driving until he careened into a ditch off the freeway an eighth of a mile from the crash site, police said.
The bus was carrying a high school hockey team from St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago, who were visiting for a tournament in the town of Culver, about 32 miles west of Warsaw, and heading back to their hotel from dinner at the time of the crash, police said.
Sixteen of the 26 people on board — which included 23 students, two coaches and a bus driver — sustained injuries, authorities said. Three kids were initially classified as having critical injuries and sent to local hospitals, according to police.
As of Sunday afternoon, all 16 victims are in stable condition, according to Brad Kellar, public information officer for the Warsaw Police Department.
On Sunday, the school posted a message to its Instagram page thanking well wishers for their “thoughts and prayers” for those involved in the crash.
“Our community stands in support of our JV hockey team that was involved in an accident after a travel contest last night,” the post read.
The Chicago Blackhawks also released a statement in support of the team following the crash.
“We send our thoughts and prayers to the Saint Ignatius College Prep’s hockey team, their coaches and their families after the team was involved in a serious bus accident last night. Please join us in keeping them in your thoughts,” the NHL team said.
Witnesses and surveillance footage revealed that Santos “disregarded a red light by several seconds before striking the bus during its turn,” police said.
The crash occurred just two minutes after police received reports that the driver was speeding, swerving into other lanes of traffic and driving off the roadway, officials said.
A news release issued by police stated that “officers had reason to suspect alcohol was a factor in this collision” after speaking to Santos, who was slurring his words and smelled like alcohol.
Santos failed field sobriety tests and refused to consent to a chemical test, police said. Authorities obtained a search warrant that allowed hospital staff to take a blood draw to be submitted for official testing.
Santos is being held on a 48-hour hold by the Kosciusko County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for formal felony charges related to operating a vehicle while intoxicated and causing serious bodily injury, police said.
The Illinois bus driver consented to a blood draw, police said.
The investigation is ongoing, Warsaw Police said in a news release, adding that “additional charges may be added or enhanced based on the outcome.”