Victor Santos – the individual solely responsible for the November 12 wreck that saw the St. Ignatius Junior Varsity Prep hockey team collide with a semi truck – is facing a lawsuit from the parents of 16 members of the hockey team and two coaches.
Alongside Santos, three trucking companies (N&V Trucking Express, B&W Cartage Company Inc., B&W Cartage Inc. and B&W Cartage International Inc.) are also named as defendants in the suit filed by the Cavanagh Law Group.
The Indiana crash was immediately chalked up to drunk driving, as Santos registered a .13 blood alcohol level following the crash – nearly two times the legal limit. He was charged with 22 felony counts of criminal recklessness while armed with a deadly weapon, as well as four counts of causing serious bodily harm while operating a vehicle.
According to the police report, local deputies were already in pursuit of Santos, who allegedly had been swerving out of his lane and driving of the road. The semi ran a red light and collided with the rear of the school bus as it entered the intersection of Center Street and US I-30, and rotated it 180 degrees before being knocked onto its side. The semi came to a rest in a nearby ditch.
According to travel logs, the bus was travelling to a hotel after a team restaurant dinner following the completing of a tournament at Culver Military Academy.
All 26 members inside the bus – including 23 junior varsity aged students, two coaches and one driver – survived the crash. Three players were transported to hospital in critical condition, including one student who was ejected from the bus, but all are expected to pull through.
Sixteen individuals suffered injuries in the crash, while most were minor, one remains in hospital. Two were sent to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne while the other continues his recovery at Parkview Health, also in Fort Wayne. The players on the bus ranged in age from 14-17, while the 15 is the mode number.
The Kosciusko County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has not yet assigned a court date for Santos, but the expectation is it will be within the month of January.
“We’re going to find out why this man who had a prior criminal conviction for rape was driving,” attorney Tim Cavanagh said of Santos, a known sex offender. “What responsible trucking company would allow this man to drive?”
Santos remains in Indiana in custody on a $77,500 bond, which has already seen attempts at reducing.
“Santos was also previously charged in Indiana with failure to comply with federal motor carrier safety regulations and failure to register under the unified carrier registration system,” the lawsuit read.
The lawsuit filed by parents and coaches has alleged extreme negligence and is asking for stiff penalties towards Santos.
B&W Cartage Inc. has responded to the lawsuit, claiming it had sold Santos the trailer he was driving following previous wreck back in 2011.