Church spokesman: Van driver pressured to speed up before crash

2012-11-30T10:33:00Z 2012-12-02T00:00:05Z Church spokesman: Van driver pressured to speed up before crashLauri Harvey Keagle lauri.keagle@nwi.com, (219) 852-4311 nwitimes.com

A van that crashed Thursday night on Cline Avenue with City Baptist Schools' basketball players inside may have been forced off the road by another driver, a spokesman for First Baptist Church of Hammond said Friday.

"Somebody was behind them flashing their lights and pushing them to go faster," church spokesman Eddie Wilson said Friday. "They went around that ramp too fast, and that's when they crashed."

Two people in the van at the time of the crash remained hospitalized Friday with head injuries, Wilson said.

Luis Uruchima, 26, of Hammond and a teacher at City Baptist Schools, was driving the van at the time of the crash, police said. Uruchima served as a chaperon for the 11 basketball players in the van, Wilson said.

Uruchima was not listed as a patient Friday night at St. Catherine’s Hospital in East Chicago, where he was being treated for head trauma earlier.

The other two passengers who went to hospitals following the crash were released overnight, he said.

The van was carrying 11 basketball players ranging in age from 15 to 18 from City Baptist Schools who attended a basketball tournament at Hyles-Anderson College in St. John Township earlier in the night.

According to Lake County sheriff's police, at 8:43 p.m. the van was traveling north on Cline at the Gary Avenue exit when it hit a steel guardrail and rolled over sideways several times before resting at the bottom of a steep ravine.

Police said a 17-year-old inside the van was ejected from the vehicle and pinned underneath it.

According to Wilson, the 17-year-old student from Harvey was airlifted to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood with head trauma and broken ribs.

"He's responsive and stable," Wilson said.

A 15-year-old Chicago boy initially was transferred to St. Catherine's Hospital with head injuries but later was transported to Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago, Wilson said.

"I saw him, and he wasn't responding the way they wanted him to," Wilson said.

The 15-year-old will remain under observation at Comer for 48 hours, Wilson said.

Wilson said there were several witnesses to the crash who are working with the Lake County Sheriff's Department.

Lake County police said alcohol was not a factor in the accident.

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