RILEY, Ind. – Students at Indiana State University are mourning the death of three classmates following a single-vehicle crash contributed by thunderstorms, speeding and alcohol, according to authorities.
One of the two survivors in the crash told deputies that they were all driving back to Terre Haute from a house party at Indiana University Bloomington where they had been drinking. He also said they were going at speeds of 90 mph at the time of the wreck.
According to the university, 18-year-old Christian Eubanks, 19-year-old Jayden Musili and 19-year-old Caleb VanHooser were pronounced dead at the scene early Sunday morning. Eubanks and VanHooser were both football players for the Sycamores.
"There are no words to express the depth of our sadness about this tragedy," ISU President Dr. Deborah J. Curtis said. "We send our condolences to the family and friends of the students involved. The Sycamore family is mourning and will support each other in this time of grief."
Deputies with the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office said five people were in the car. The two others injured in the crash were also ISU football players. They are expected to survive.
According to a crash report, Eubanks was driving a Toyota Camry about 1:30 a.m. Sunday during heavy rains near State Road 46 and Main Street when the car went off the road and struck a tree in the small town of Riley located about 10 miles from the university’s Terre Haute campus. The car then caught fire.
Investigators said that about 4 inches of standing rainwater were also visible at the scene, making any tire marks unable to be seen.
A witness told authorities it was hard to see any oncoming traffic at the time of the wreck due to the downpouring rain. As the driver came around the corner, he heard a loud noise and saw a "very bright flash that seemed fake," according to the crash report.
The good Samaritan was able to pull the first victim from the car. With the help of another passing motorist, they pulled a second victim hanging out of the vehicle and dragged him to safety away from the fire.
The bystander told deputies he initially believed that everyone was out of the vehicle, but then he heard lots of screaming, and that’s when he thought there were more people in the car.
ISU student-athletes gathered Sunday night at Memorial Stadium to mourn the tragedy. The football team did not practice Monday.
"It is a terrible day for Indiana State football and a devastating loss for both the Eubanks and the VanHooser families," head football coach Curt Mallory said. "Both young men were quality individuals who were loved and respected by their teammates and this staff. To say they will be missed is an understatement."