NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. (WANE) It was the first day back Monday for the Manchester University campus since the close-knit community lost three students Sunday, with another classmate in critical condition at a Fort Wayne hospital.
In a community of 1,500 students and faculty said everyone is affected in one way or another, with four familiar faces missing.
“I woke up Sunday morning and saw the stuff on social media. The thoughts going through your mind is who is it because they didn’t release names so late. So, you’re texting your friends, just hoping you hear from all of them. There’s nothing that you can hope from it, but you’re hoping that people start replying and then having to wait to hear when the names come back, is just, it felt like forever,” Jacob Sweet, a senior at Manchester University said.
Bouquets of roses lined the International Center’s porch Monday, where the students spent some of their time.
“Nerad was a light within her resource hall,” Allen Machielson, Dean of Student Experience said.
Machielson helped hire two of them. Nerad Grace Mangai was a sophomore biology-chemistry major and a resident assistant. Kirubel Alemayehu Hailu was a first-year student majoring in medical technology. Brook Dagnew was a sophomore majoring in biology-chemistry and in the multicultural assistance program.
“Brook was a fun-loving person who enjoyed people, enjoyed to laugh and enjoyed to make people laugh.”
“When you go by it, you try and look and just kind of try to think of them when you walk by,” Sweet said.
Four students are now missing from the campus.
“It’s a small place and you recognize people’s faces and you get used to them and even if you didn’t know them you can sense when they’re not there,” Sweet said. “You lost people your age. They have so much to live and so much to give and that opportunity was taken from them.”
The university held a memorial service Sunday night.
“We had several hundred students and faculty and staff members come in to just talk about the students who had passed and deal with the raw emotions at that moment,” Machielson said. “It was evident yesterday how close-knit community and what a family Manchester University is for students and faculty and staff.”
“The deaths made me realize that I really don’t talk to many people on campus and I’ve made it a point to try and talk to everyone and smile because you never know if a smile changes somebody’s day or you never know if you could see that person again. So it’s really opened a lot of people’s eyes,” Siera Updike, senior at Manchester University said.
Students said it’s the first day back of what will be a long road.
“Prayers for the community and for the families and hopefully we can get things like this under control for the future so it doesn’t affect anyone else,” Sweet said.
The three other students involved in the crash were back at school Monday.
The driver of the van that crashed into the students is Deangelo Evans, 26. He is in police custody, facing several OWI charges.
The university is holding a more formal memorial service Wednesday evening. The public service will be held at 7 p.m. at Cordier Auditorium on the main campus in North Manchester.
Donations for the families affected Sunday can be made online at: www.manchester.edu/international-student-memorial