Semi Driver Faces 26 Charges For Saturday’s Crash With Bus

Victor Santos

Charges have been updated against the suspect in the semi-bus crash on U.S. 30 in Warsaw Saturday that injured 20 teens.

According to a news release late Monday night from the Warsaw Police Department, after extensive investigation by the WPD and the Kosciusko County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the following charges have been officially filed on the suspect, Victor Santos, 58, Brooklyn, N.Y., as of Monday evening: counts 1 through 4, causing serious bodily injury while operating a vehicle, Level 5 felonies; counts 5 through 26, criminal recklessness while armed with a deadly weapon, Level 6 felonies.

The bond in this case has been set at $75,000 surety plus $2,500 cash.

The 26 counts match the 26 victims of this crime, the release states. While thorough investigation has led to these charges, this investigation continues on behalf of the Kosciusko County prosecutor, and additional charges or enhancements could follow in the future.

“Some of these injuries are extremely serious and we continue to pray for the full recovery of all the students, coaches and the bus driver who unfortunately fell victim to these crimes,” the release states.

The bus was carrying a hockey team from Saint Ignatius College Prep out of Chicago on Saturday night. The team was staying at a Warsaw hotel and dining in the city for a weekend hockey tournament.

According to the Warsaw Police Department accident report, at approximately 8:06 p.m. Saturday, Santos was driving a 2006 Freightliner CLM west on U.S. 30 toward East Center Street in Warsaw. Santos said a 2008 International school bus – driven by Everett C. Shelton, 67, Alsip, Ill. – pulled out in front of him at the intersection, the report states.

Also according to the report, Santos showed signs of impairment at the time of the accident. Officers on scene conducted field sobriety tests for Santos. A search warrant was signed for his blood for further testing. Santos was initially arrested for operating a vehicle with serious bodily injury and was booked into the Kosciusko County Jail at 10:09 p.m. Saturday.

Shelton was driving the school bus with 26 passengers from a hockey tournament. Shelton said he was on U.S. 30 in the turn lane to turn left on East Center Street. He said he had a green turn arrow to make the left turn through the intersection when he saw Santos driving west. Shelton said he was unable to clear the intersection before the school bus was hit by Santos’ semi-tractor-trailer. Shelton’s school bus was hit and flipped over on its driver side.

Two witnesses were in a vehicle together behind Santos when his semi approached them from behind. They said Santos’ semi was straddling the yellow line down the middle of the roadway and forced them off the side of the road to avoid a collision. They paced Santos’ semi approaching Warsaw at 80 to 85 miles per hour. The witnesses said they continued to follow Santos and called 911 to report Santos.

The witnesses said the westbound traffic had a red light. They saw Santos’ brake lights on the trailer momentarily light up and then the semi continued into the intersection.

The witnesses said Santos continued into the intersection without slowing down, running the red light and hitting the school bus.

Two more witnesses were riding in a vehicle behind Santos since Columbia City westbound on U.S. 30. They said Santos almost ran them off the road several times and at times was traveling at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour. They said called 911 to report Santos as a reckless driver. They saw Shelton’s school bus begin to turn, crossing the intersection. They said the light for westbound traffic was red. They said Santos did not attempt to swerve to miss the bus or apply the brakes to avoid hitting the bus.

Video was received from Grote Automotive at the intersection. In the video, the bus is observed in the turn lane on East U.S. 30 to turn on Center Street. The arrow turned green for the bus to make the turn. The bus was making the turn when Santos’ semi approached the intersection at a high rate of speed and hit the school bus.

Multiple EMS crews were called to the scene for the accident for various injuries.