FAIRMOUNT, Ind. (AP) — Three international students from Africa died and a fourth was injured along a northern Indiana highway when a van driven by a man who authorities say was intoxicated struck them early Sunday, officials said.
Nerad Grace Mangai of Jos, Nigeria, and Brook Dagnew and Kirubel Alemayehu Hailu, both of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, died in the crash on Interstate 69 about 50 miles southwest of Fort Wayne shortly after 5 a.m., Manchester University President Dave McFadden said. They had been standing outside their disabled vehicle.
Israel Solomon Tamire, also of Addis Ababa, was being treated for injuries at a Fort Wayne hospital, McFadden said. The Grant County Sheriff’s Department said he was in critical condition following surgery.
The driver of the van that struck the students, Deangelo R. Evans, 26, of Chicago, was treated for minor injuries and charged with three counts each of reckless homicide and operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death and one count of OWI resulting in serious bodily injury. Evans was being held in the Grant County Jail in Marion on $300,000 bond. It wasn’t immediately clear if he had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
The students plus three others who were not injured had gone to Ball State University in Muncie and Taylor University in Upland and were returning to Manchester’s campus in North Manchester, about 35 miles west of Fort Wayne, when their van had a flat tire. They were outside the vehicle partially off the roadway toward the median while the tire was being changed.
Manchester is a private liberal arts school in North Manchester affiliated with the Church of the Brethren and enrolls about 1,500 students.
“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,” McFadden told WANE-TV. “So this loss isn’t just three students or three students who have affected a small group of students — it affects the entire community.”
A gathering for students, faculty and staff was planned for Sunday night at a campus chapel. The university said it was making counselors available.
Mangai and Dagnew were sophomore biology-chemistry majors and Hailu was a first-year medical technology major.
Gov. Mike Pence posted on Twitter that he was “deeply saddened” by the deaths.
“I urge Hoosiers to keep their families/friends/community in your prayers,” Pence said.