A van with twelve teenage passengers drove off a highway exit ramp and rolled down an embankment near Gary, Indiana on a recent Thursday night. The youths were returning home from a basketball tournament in which they had competed. The driver reportedly had sped up to distance the van from a tailgater.
All twelve were rushed to local hospitals. One, who had been ejected from the van, was taken by helicopter to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. According to a release from the Lake County (Ind.) Sheriff’s office, none had life-threatening injuries, and all were between the ages of 15 and 17.
The teenagers are enrolled at City Baptist Schools in Hammond, according to a Chicago Sun-Times interview with the principal, John Francis.
“From what we understand, there was a car that was tail-gating the van, flashing its high-beams, trying to get the van to go fast,” Francis said. “The van sped up to get this car off its tail and was coming up to the exit and took the exit too fast.”
The sheriff’s office said that one boy, age 17, was ejected from the vehicle, after which it came to rest on top of him. He sustained a broken rib and a cut on his head and was airlifted to Loyola University Medical Center.
“When you look at the pictures (of the crash),” it could have been much worse,” Francis said. “We’re very thankful.” Francis also commented that the tailgater did not stop at the scene of the accident.
The following day, the sheriff’s office said that the accident would be investigated further, but they had determined that alcohol was not a factor.