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Thread: 5 Taylor University students killed

  1. #1
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default 5 Taylor University students killed

    This thread likely will need to be moved, but I know of at least one person who attended Taylor University, so I thought I'd post this here.

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dl...plate=printart


    5 Taylor University students killed in I-69 crash
    Star news services
    April 26, 2006


    MARION, Ind. -- A semitrailer crashed through an Interstate 69 median and collided with a Taylor University van Wednesday night, killing five people and injuring five others, police said.

    All of those killed were Taylor students who were traveling back to the school's Upland campus after working to set up for a Thursday banquet at its Fort Wayne campus, school spokesman Jim Garringer said. Four other passengers believed to be Taylor studenters were in the van.

    The collision happened about 2 miles north of the Marion exit in Grant County, closing the interstate in both directions, state police Sgt. Rodger Popplewell said.

    Police had the southbound lanes shut off and northbound traffic was limited to one lane only.

    Two helicopters from Fort Wayne had landed and transported the injured to trauma centers at Parkview Hospital, Fort Wayne.

    Taylor spokesman Jim Garringer confirmed that the van was Taylor-owned and was being used for official purposes, but could not confirm who was on board.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    There are a few of us Taylor guys/ girls on here.

    That's rough.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


  3. #3
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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    Terribly, terribly sad news

  4. #4
    Member McClintic Sphere's Avatar
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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    My deepest sympathies. Several of my family members are alums.

  5. #5
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    Default 5 Taylor Students killed...

    holy crap....this is my alma mater. Jay, too. How sad.

    *****************************************

    April 27, 2006

    Crash kills 5 from university
    Semi slams into van carrying Taylor students, employees
    Star and news services
    April 27, 2006

    MARION, Ind. -- A semitrailer truck crashed through an I-69 median and collided with a Taylor University van Wednesday night, killing five people and injuring five others, police said.
    All of those killed were believed to be Taylor students or employees who were traveling back to the school's Upland campus after working to set up a banquet for today at its Fort Wayne campus, school spokesman Jim Garringer said.
    The collision happened about two miles north of the Marion exit, Exit 64, in Grant County, closing the interstate in both directions, State Police Sgt. Rodger Popplewell said.
    Southbound lanes were still closed early today. One of the northbound lanes was reopened more than two hours after the crash.
    The names of the dead and injured were not immediately available.
    Garringer said at least two school vans were bringing students back to the Upland campus. Only one van was involved in the crash.
    "We have a list of names, but we're still trying to narrow down who was in the van," he said.
    Popplewell said a preliminary investigation showed the northbound semi drove through the median into the southbound lanes about 8 p.m., colliding with the passenger van about midway between Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. The collision peeled open the side of the van, and several of the occupants were ejected, he said.
    Two of the injured, both passengers in the van, were taken by helicopter to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne. Three others, including the semi driver, were taken by ambulance to Marion General Hospital.
    Taylor, an evangelical Christian liberal arts school, has 1,900 students at its main campus in Upland, a Grant County town about 10 miles from the crash site.
    The Taylor van not involved in the crash had pulled off the highway to refuel and came up on the accident scene soon after it happened, Garringer said.
    A prayer service in the campus chapel was planned for late Wednesday on the Upland campus. As word of the crash spread, students made their way slowly, in clumps of three and four, to the Rediger Chapel/Auditorium for the service.
    Classes at the Upland campus were canceled for today.
    Another prayer service was scheduled for 9 a.m. today at the chapel. The facility seats at least 1,500 people, and students and staff were encouraged to attend.
    No decisions had been made about planned inauguration activities for Taylor President Eugene B. Habecker. Garringer said university officials likely would address that question early today.
    "We're living a nightmare," he said.
    Taylor has operated the Fort Wayne campus since 1992, and Garringer said he knew of no other serious accidents involving school employees and students making the trip between the campuses, about 50 miles apart.
    "It is a normal procedure for us to have workers move in between our Upland and Fort Wayne campuses," he said.
    Garringer was on his way to the Marion hospital late Wednesday and was clearly still reeling from the shock of the accident. Some at Taylor University with ties to music circles had known some of the five Indiana University music students killed in a plane crash last week, he said.
    Taylor students and faculty were still grieving over those deaths and now have been hit with tragedy even closer to home, Garringer said.
    "It's just one of those things where . . . there are no words."
    Star reporter Diana Penner contributed to this story.
    "If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you." - Jack Handy

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    Member Vicious Tyrant's Avatar
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    Default Re: 5 Taylor Students killed...

    Sorry, just saw this in the News forum (I never go there).
    "If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you." - Jack Handy

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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    I'm an alum. Dad just retired from there two years ago. I'm sure I didn't know the students, but it feels like family....
    "If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you." - Jack Handy

  8. #8
    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: 5 Taylor Students killed...

    I didn't attend Taylor, but I went to basketball camp there for three summers when I was in 6th, 7th, 8th grade. Likely would have attended college there if either my grades were good enough or if I had the money.

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    Default Re: 5 Taylor Students killed...

    http://www.taylor.edu/community/news...t_04-26-06.htm


    This really is devasting...

    UPDATE: State police release names of I-69 crash victims

    MARION — The names of five people killed in a Wednesday night traffic accident on Interstate 69 were released by state police shortly after 4 a.m. today.

    Killed in the 8:09 p.m. accident — at the interstate’s 66-mile marker, about two miles north of Ind. 18 in Grant County — were four Taylor University students: Whitney E. Cerak, 18, Gaylord, Mich.; Laurel E. Erb, 20, St. Charles, Ill.; Bradley J. Larson, 22, Elm Grove, Wis., and Elizabeth A. Smith, 22, Mount Zion, Ill.

    Also pronounced dead at the scene was a Taylor University employee, 53-year-old Monica Felver of Hartford City.

    Those killed in the crash were among nine occupants of a Taylor-owned van that was traveling south on the interstate when it was struck by a semi-tractor trailer that had left the northbound lanes and crossed the median.

    Injured in the accident were another Taylor student, Laura J. Vanryn, 22, Caledonia, Mich., and three Taylor employees: Vickie L. Rhodes, 54, Fairmount; Connie Magers, 50, Gas City, and Michelle M. Miller, 33, Marion.

    Vanryn and Miller were taken by air ambulance to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne, while Magers and Rhodes, the van’s driver, were being treated early today at Marion General Hospital.

    The semi’s driver, Robert F. Spencer, 27, Canton, Mich., was initially taken to the Marion hospital and later flown by helicopter to Parkview.

    According to a press release from state police Sgt. Rod Russell, the semi driven by Spencer — a 1996 Freightliner loaded with baking flour — tore through the entire van’s driver’s side, causing several of the van’s occupants to be ejected from that vehicle.

    The 1999 Ford van, with a 15-passenger capacity, did not overturn after the collision, Russell said. Both vehicles came to rest in a ditch adjacent to the interstate’s southbound lanes.

    Van driver Rhodes and front-seat passenger Magers were wearing seat belts. The remaining passengers’ seat belt use could not be determined due to the severity of the crash, Russell said.

    The five victims who did not survive the crash were pronounced dead at the scene.

    The van’s occupants were traveling back to the school’s Upland campus after working to set up a Thursday banquet at Taylor’s Fort Wayne campus, school spokesman Jim Garringer said.

    Wednesday night’s tragedy came two days before a day-long celebration was planned on the Upland campus to commemorate the former inauguration of Taylor’s new president, Gene Habecker.

    State police motor carrier inspectors will conduct a “detailed mechanical inspection” of the semi-tractor trailer, authorities said.

    Although it is not suspected in this case, state law requires drivers of motor vehicles involved in serious injury or fatal crashes to submit to a mandatory blood draw to determine whether alcohol or drugs were a factor.

    Wednesday’s crash remains under investigation, and evidence will be turned over to the Grant County prosecutor’s office for review when the probe is completed.

    http://www.chronicle-tribune.com/app...EWS01/60427004

    UPDATE: Taylor students attending morning prayer meeting

    Today's classes have been canceled at the university after fatal accident.

    Taylor University students gathered for a 9 a.m. prayer meeting this morning to mourn the loss of four students and a staff person who were killed in an accident on I-69 Wednesday evening.

    Classes have been canceled at the university. No word has been announced yet as to whether a inauguration ceremony for the university's new president will be held Friday.

    Check back throughout the day for updates of this story.

    Originally published April 27, 2006

    http://www.chronicle-tribune.com/app...EWS01/60427005

    Taylor family gathers
    BY SEAN F. DRISCOLL and KATIE ALBRIGHT
    sdriscol@marion.gannett.com

    UPLAND - Jim Garringer's words, strained with agony, struggled with two needs Wednesday night: his need to get the news out about the tragic deaths of five members of Taylor University's family, and his need to find a corner, sink to the ground and cry.

    "This is a nightmare. We just received a call that they've confirmed five deaths," said Garringer, Taylor's director of news services, a mere two hours after the accident occurred. "We don't have any names yet. We have some rosters of students who went to Fort Wayne. They were on their way home. At this point, we're still trying to figure out who it was."

    Then he stopped. Took a breath. And another. Then he spoke, not as a campus official, but as a devastated family member.

    "Lord, have mercy on us. I can't imagine what these families will be going through. Our hearts are broken."

    Wednesday night, word of the deaths spread slowly around the Upland campus. As information, scattered at first, then coming in waves, became known, students across the small 1,800-person campus struggled with what they knew and what they didn't.

    "I was shocked. I was thinking, 'No way,'" said junior Michael Bentley. "I was worried and thinking, 'Who do I know,' because we do a lot of ministry in Marion."

    Students in clumps of three and four slowly were making their way from their dorms to Rediger Chapel Auditorium, where a late-night prayer service was being convened. The students were largely clad in their sleeping wear, hooded sweatshirts and pajama bottoms.

    A 9 a.m. prayer service is scheduled for today, and classes are canceled, Garringer said.

    Late Wednesday night, the chapel service was still going at Rediger, with students singing hymns, reading from the Bible and praying in groups large and small. The chapel was packed, students sitting and standing in the aisles, a constant flow of people coming and going from the building.

    One student offered a prayer for the truck driver whose rig hit the Taylor van and who was being treated in Fort Wayne for his injuries late Wednesday.

    Taylor's new president, Eugene Habecker, spoke earlier in the service, struggling to find words of comfort.

    "I don't have any answers for you," he said. "Even though we're hurting like crazy, we need to wrap our arms around each other and cling to God."

    Marion Mayor Wayne Seybold came to the service, offering the support of Marion's residents to the grieving community.

    "We're deeply sorry for your loss," he said. "Our community is here to do whatever it can do. We'll be with you every step of the way, 100 percent with you."

    The students and staff - nine in all - were on their way back from Taylor's Fort Wayne campus, helping to set up for a scholarship banquet to be held today on that campus. It's an annual event, but this year's was to be part of new president Eugene Habecker's inauguration festivities planned for the weekend.

    Now, the fate of those events, once intended to be a crowning moment, celebrating the future of Taylor University, are - as so many things were late Wednesday - unknown.

    "At this point, we just don't know," Garringer said. "They probably won't make a determination until sometime tomorrow."

    Originally published April 27, 2006

    http://www.chronicle-tribune.com/app...604270333/1002
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


  10. #10
    Member Vicious Tyrant's Avatar
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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    Oh shi+, oh shi+. Whitney Cerak is the daughter of my old youth group leader, since moved up to Michigan.





    Oh man.......
    "If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you." - Jack Handy

  11. #11

    Default perhaps one of the most sad and bizarre stories ever

    Seriously, what a monumental screw-up.

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dl...LOCAL/60531039

    Wrong girl declared dead in Taylor crash

    By Theodore Kim
    theodore.kim@indystar.com

    In a case of mistaken identity that brought joy to one family and grief to another, authorities announced today that a Taylor University student believed to have been killed in a van crash is actually alive — and that another student who was said to have survived had, in fact, died at the scene five weeks ago.

    “We have some hard news to share with you today,” the family of Laura J. VanRyn said in a web site blog where it had been posting updates on the survivor’s condition. “Our hearts are aching as we have learned that the young woman we have been taking care of over the past five weeks has not been our dear Laura, but instead a fellow Taylor student of hers, Whitney Cerak.”

    The family said a “misidentification” was made at the time of the April 26 accident and that the women shared an “uncanny” resemblance.

    “Their body types are similar, their hair color and texture, their facial features, etc.,” the family said.



    Cerak, 18, of Gaylord, Mich., is a freshman at the university, while VanRyn, 22, of Caledonia, Mich., was a senior.

    Over the past couple of days, as Cerak had become more aware of her surroundings, she had been “saying and doing some things that made us question whether or not she was Laura,” the family said.

    On Tuesday, the VanRyns began the process of making a positive identification.

    In a statement issued by both families, the VanRyns and Ceraks said dental records allowed them to finally sort through the misidentification.

    “We now know without a doubt that this is Whitney,” the VanRyns said on their blog.

    Recovering at a rehabilitation facility in Grand Rapids, Mich., Cerak only recently begun to emerge from a coma that she has been in since the night of the accident, according to a Taylor University statement.

    It said the Grant County Coroner’s office notified the university this morning that VanRyn was “instead one of the five people who died that evening.”

    “One can only imagine what impact this new development has had upon the VanRyn and Cerak families as they process this information,” the university said.

    Taylor University spokesman Jim Garringer said the news left the campus in a state of “tremendous shock.”

    “We are grateful, certainly, for the Cerak family and grieved for the VanRyn family,” he said.

    “I think right now we’re numb,” he added. “In some ways, this brings us back to April 26 all over again.”

    In Gaylord, members of the Gaylord Evangelical Free Church also were left in disbelief after hearing that Cerak — who is well known to the 550-member congregation — was still alive, Associate Pastor Joe Sereno said.

    “We’re pretty numb; just shocked,” said Sereno, adding that just a month ago, an overflow crowd of more than 1,400 people turned out for Cerak’s funeral.

    “There’s joy at the news, but it is tempered by the sadness that this other family’s daughter is here now, that they’ve lost their daughter,” Sereno said. “We just feel that burden.

    “We did everything for Whitney — the service and memorial; she was buried here in town. We’re still struggling.”

    Sereno said Cerak’s parents, Newell and Colleen Cerak, were in Grand Rapids at their daughter’s side.

    The family had tried to return to a normal life. Colleen Cerak, a physical education teacher, had returned to teaching; Whitney’s older sister, Carlie, who also attended Taylor University, had gone back for final exams.

    The collision happened about two miles north of the Marion exit in Grant County.

    According to a preliminary investigation of the crash, a northbound 1996 Freightliner semi-tractor trailer owned by Mike Brooks Inc., Knoxville, Iowa, and loaded with baking flour, crossed through the median and collided with a southbound passenger van carrying the victims.

    The crash tore through the entire van’s driver’s side, causing several of the van’s occupants to be ejected from the vehicle.

    Also killed in the crash were students Elizabeth A. Smith, 22, from Mount Zion, Ill., Bradley J. Larson, 22, from Elm Grove, Wis., Laurel E. Erb, 20, from St. Charles, Ill., and university employee Monica Felver, 53, from Hartford City, Ind.

    Grant County Prosecutor James Luttrull Jr. is reviewing the findings of the crash to determine whether criminal charges are warranted.

    According to statements from witnesses, trucker Robert F. Spencer, 37, of Michigan, fell asleep at the wheel before his semitrailer drifted across the median midway between Fort Wayne and Indianapolis and hit the university van, investigators have said.

    A memorial service for VanRyn was scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday at Kentwood Community Church in Grand Rapids.


    This story will be updated.

    See tomorrow's Indianapolis Star for more on this story.
    The poster "pacertom" since this forum began (and before!). I changed my name here to "Slick Pinkham" in honor of the imaginary player That Bobby "Slick" Leonard picked late in the 1971 ABA draft (true story!)

  12. #12

    Default BREAKING NEWS: Case of mistaken identity involving fatal Taylor Univ. crash

    http://www.indianasnewscenter.com/St...&NStoryID=3031

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------
    BREAKING NEWS: Case of mistaken identity involving fatal Taylor Univ. crash
    May 31, 2006 - (Upland) -- Taylor University officials Wednesday said that one of the Taylor students who had been reported killed in a crash along I-69 on April 27 is alive.
    In a bizarre twist of mistaken identity, the student originally identified as Laura Van Ryn, who was flown to Fort Wayne's Parkview Hospital in a coma with head injuries, has woken up from a coma.

    Van Ryn had been transferred to a hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan and when someone asked her to write down her name last night, she said she was Whitney Cerak.

    Whitney's family had buried the girl they thought was her daughter, several weeks ago.

    We'll have more on this story tonight on Indiana's NewsCenter.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Wow. That is all I can say right now.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: BREAKING NEWS: Case of mistaken identity involving fatal Taylor Univ. crash

    Yikes.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


  14. #14
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    Default Re: BREAKING NEWS: Case of mistaken identity involving fatal Taylor Univ. crash

    http://www.taylor.edu/community/news...1_accident.htm

    Includes a side-by-side photo of the two girls.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


  15. #15
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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    I can't even begin to think of what those families are going through right now.

    I don't know who to blame for this. Both families misidentified their own daughters so it's hard to blame the coroners office.
    The poster formerly known as Rimfire

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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    From the photos, one could suspect the girls were sisters. Because of that, why did they wait this long to do a positive ID with dental records?
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


  17. #17
    Cheeseburger in Paradise Los Angeles's Avatar
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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    If there were head/face injuries, I could understand how misidentification could happen.

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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay@Section204
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    From the photos, one could suspect the girls were sisters. Because of that, why did they wait this long to do a positive ID with dental records?
    Dunno - I don't know enough about how that all works. Would the coroner know anything about the girl that survived and would the hospital know anything about the girl that died?

    Someone has to tell somebody that the girls resemble each other very closely.
    The poster formerly known as Rimfire

  19. #19
    Cheeseburger in Paradise Los Angeles's Avatar
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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    Oh my god. The family who thought the survivor was their daughter - and therefore had been caring for her - was keeping a blog throughtout her recovery.

    Don't read this unless you're ready to get emotional.

    http://lauravanryn.blogspot.com/

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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    What words can you even say?
    "If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you." - Jack Handy

  21. #21
    Fear my small avatar Gyron's Avatar
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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    I know we have all been thinking about the poor parents in all of this, but can you imagine what it was like for the girl who was waking up thinking she wasn't remembering anything because these people were telling her they were her parents, family, etc.....and then now to find out it was mistaken identity? Wow, I can't even imagine the confusion in her mind as well.

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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    Wow. I'm thinking the coroner will be in a little bit of trouble over this...

  23. #23
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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    Quote Originally Posted by Gyron
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    I know we have all been thinking about the poor parents in all of this, but can you imagine what it was like for the girl who was waking up thinking she wasn't remembering anything because these people were telling her they were her parents, family, etc.....and then now to find out it was mistaken identity? Wow, I can't even imagine the confusion in her mind as well.
    Wow, how true. Can you imagine?

    What would it be like to have videos from your funeral to watch? Or hundreds of cards expressing sympathy for your death? I just can't imagine....
    "If you ever crawl inside an old hollow log and go to sleep, and while you're in there some guys come and seal up both ends and then put it on a truck and take it to another city, boy, I don't know what to tell you." - Jack Handy

  24. #24
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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    That is seriously screwed up for everyone invloved. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved in this horrible tragedy.
    "I'm not arguing; I'm explaining why I'm right."

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    Default Re: 5 Taylor University students killed

    Quote Originally Posted by DisplacedKnick
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Dunno - I don't know enough about how that all works. Would the coroner know anything about the girl that survived and would the hospital know anything about the girl that died?

    Someone has to tell somebody that the girls resemble each other very closely.
    From what I've read, the girl that survived had already been airlifted by the time the coroner arrived. Sounds like an at-the-scene communication breakdown.

    And really, when you're on the scene of a multiple-fatality accident in which a van was seared in half and bodies of young college-age kids with bright futures were strewn across the expressway, its probably hard to keep a level head. My wife's uncle is a retired-CHiP - I've heard him talk about a motorcycle accident he had to clean up and he still gets choked up when he mentions it.

    This whole thing has been devastating to the TU community. We actually have people calling us to give us updates, and we don't know any of the families.

    + + + + +

    You can pretty much guarantee this story is going to be made into a TV movie. I don't know how I feel about that.
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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