By Natalie Nohr | Echo
Early Sunday morning, seven students finished a visit with friends from Taylor and Ball State, then headed back home to Manchester University.
Three of those students never made it to Manchester's campus.
According to Director of Media Relations Jim Garringer, the group got a flat tire on I-69 and were standing outside their van near the 253 mile marker. Four students stood on the driver's side, and three stood at the rear when Deangelo Evans allegedly hit the four students at the front with his vehicle, according to Fox News.
Nerad Grace Mangai, Brook Dagnew and Kirubel Alemayehu Hailu died on the scene. Israel Solomon Tamire was flown to Parkview Lutheran Hospital in critical condition, Fox News and Manchester University said. The three other students returned to Manchester physically unharmed.
Mangai was from Jos, Nigeria, while Dagnew and Hailu were from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, according to the Associated Press.
Evans faces three counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated, one count of causing serious bodily injury and three counts of reckless homicide, according to the Associated Press.
Many in the Taylor community have been grieving alongside Manchester, especially those who were friends with those who died, according to Rachel McGregor, Gerig and Breuninger assistant hall director.
"There aren't words to express the depth of grief," McGregor said. "There are lots of students on campus who are experiencing grief . . . who are feeling a huge amount of pain."
Both President Habecker and Marylou Habecker reached out to the Manchester community through phone calls, notes and social media, expressing deep sadness over the accident. President Habecker contacted Manchester's president as soon as he received the email about the accident from Skip Trudeau, the vice president for student development.
The Habeckers said they immediately began to pray upon hearing the news.
For some here on Taylor's campus, Manchester's accident brought back memories of Taylor's van accident in 2006. Garringer said that for many in the community, it was hard to ignore the parallels between the two situations. He remembered the flood of phone calls after the accident, and he expects that Manchester is having a similar experience.
"The Lord was with us. We're trusting that the Lord is with the people at Manchester (as well)," Garringer said. "They're in our hearts, our prayers and our thoughts."
As told on Taylor's website, on April 26, 2006 a van full of 9 Taylor students and staff was hit by a semi truck, killing five of the passengers in the vehicle: Monica Felver, Laurel Erb, Brad Larson, Betsy Smith and Laura Van Ryn. The other four passengers were left with major injuries.
"(When I heard about Manchester) it was just disbelief, (thinking something like) this can't happen again," Marylou said, referring to Taylor's motor vehicle accident almost ten years ago.
President Habecker agrees that it shocked him as well, raising memories from 2006.
He recalled how he processed his own grief after Taylor's accident. Marylou said that at the time they almost felt as if the accident was their fault. The students and faculty involved in the 2006 wreck had been helping to set up for the Habeckers' presidential inauguration.
"In our own strength we're never going to be able to wrap our arms around it," President Habecker said.
Both President Habecker and Marylou encouraged those who are grieving to ask for comfort and help from others, especially through counseling. President Habecker said that at the time of Taylor's accident, he had to seek help himself.
He referred to Isaiah 26:3, which promises peace for those who unwaveringly trust in the Lord. President Habecker said that the answers to some questions may never be fully revealed, yet we have hope.
"We had the sense that other people were helping (to hold) up our arms," President Habecker said. "Other people need to be a part of the process of holding up . . . (Manchester's) arms."
Any Taylor student who is grieving can seek counseling from Taylor's Counseling Center by calling (765) 998-5222 or through email at email@example.com.