GRANT COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) – A man faces several charges, including reckless homicide, after three Manchester University students were killed in a crash on Interstate 69 in Grant County early Sunday morning.
According to leaders at the university, there were a total of seven international students involved in the crash. Three of those students died and another is in critical condition at a hospital in Fort Wayne.
Authorities in Grant County responded around 5:20 a.m. to the crash on northbound I-69 at the 253 mile marker, near the Delaware County line. The crash forced northbound lanes to be closed for several hours. Manchester University President David McFadden told NewsChannel 15 the students were coming back from visiting friends at Ball State University and Taylor University.
The students were traveling in a passenger van that was broken down with what appeared to be a flat tire, according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Department.
Police said the van was partially off the road towards the median and the students were outside the passenger van, three of the seven students were near the rear and four were along the driver’s side area of the vehicle.
According to police, another passenger van was headed north on I-69. The van left the road and went into the median, hitting four of the students.
The driver of the second passenger van, 26-year-old Deangelo R. Evans, was taken to a hospital in Marion where he was treated for minor injuries and released into police custody. Investigators said he faces three counts of operating while intoxicated causing death, one count of operating while intoxicated resulting in serious bodily injury and three counts of reckless homicide. His bond has been set at $300,000. He is being held in Grant County Jail.
Evans’ OWI charges indicate he may have had a blood alcohol level of at least twice the legal limit. Police have not commented on his possible B.A.C.
McFadden identified the students involved in a Facebook post on the university’s page.
It is with great sadness that I share news of a tragic accident early this morning that claimed the lives of three Manchester University students, Nerad Grace Mangai, Brook M. Dagnew and Kirubel Alemayehu Hailu.
A fourth MU student, Israel Solomon Tamire, is being treated for injuries at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne. Three other students, Nebiyu Shiferaw Alemu, Amanuel Atsbha Gebreyohannes and Dagmawi Meseret Tadesse, were not injured and have returned to North Manchester.
Manchester University Media Relations Director Anne Gregory said the university’s focus is on the students. Counselors will be made available at the university’s Intercultural Center.
“We’re concentrating on the community,” she said, adding the students have a close-knit connection.
“In Our experience with things like this, what students need is time to process, time to think, time to remember those who were lost and I expect that’s what they’ll be doing today,” McFadden said.
He continued, “one of the things about Manchester, as a small institution, is that we are all very close. Faculty, and staff, and students all know each other by name. This loss isn’t just three students or three students who have affected a small group of students, it affects the entire community. And so as students who were closest to them come together, they are surrounded and supported by everyone on campus… I think their experience this week will be that close-knit community, that support they find all the time. But especially in a difficult time it’s more important, more valuable.”
The university has scheduled a gathering for 8 p.m. Sunday night and intends to have a memorial service sometime this week.
Manchester University is located in North Manchester, about 35 miles west of Fort Wayne. The school enrolls about 1,500 students.
Read the full message to students from McFadden here.
Gov. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) tweeted he was “deeply saddened.”