Updated 9:40 p.m. ET
, news editor, Adventist Review
ASeventh-day Adventist principal and his 5-year-old niece were killed in a car accident as he drove a group of students to school in the U.S. state of Indiana on Tuesday.
Norris Ncube, principal of Indianapolis Junior Academy, was carrying five children in his gray Honda SUV when a gold SUV slammed into his vehicle as he exited a street ramp around 7:40 a.m., church officials and news media reported.
“The van was picking up children to attend school this morning when another van sped into an intersection, broadsiding Mr. Ncube’s van,” the Indiana Conference said in an e-mailed statement.
Witnesses said the gold SUV appeared to have run a red light, Fox59 television reported. The elderly driver, the only person in the gold SUV, may have suffered a medical condition, police told the television station. The driver was hospitalized in critical condition.
Ncube was pronounced dead at the accident scene, and the five children were rushed to Riley Children’s Hospital. The Indiana Conference identified the children as Ncube’s twin children, sixth graders Joshua Sandie Ncube and Jessica Senele Ncube; his niece, Malia Sizba, in the first grade; Deon Sizba, sixth grade; and Buhlebenkosi Anita Nikoma, eighth grade.
Sizba died of her injuries in the hospital. County coroners initially said Ncube’s 12-year-old son also died but corrected their report in the evening, citing a miscommunication with the hospital. Coroners said the boy was on a ventilator and his prognosis was poor.
Police have opened an investigation into the crash.
Reporters from all four major television networks were at Indianapolis Junior Academy on Tuesday afternoon, preparing to broadcast reports from there for the evening news.
Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson said the academy was in his thoughts and prayers.
“My heart grieves with the families and teachers who have lost loved ones and are now praying at the hospital beds of the four other children involved in the accident,” he said on his Facebook page.
The academy will be closed Wednesday and possibly longer as teachers and students grapple with their grief. Funeral arrangements are under way but final plans have not been announced.
Indianapolis Junior Academy, founded in 1963, teaches 85 children from kindergarten through eighth grade in downtown Indianapolis, the capital of Indiana with a population of about 1.5 million.
Ncube, 50, who served as principal and fifth-grade teacher, doubled enrollment during his two years at the school, the Indianapolis Star newspaper reported.
Ncube grew up in Zimbabwe and moved in 1996 to the United States, where he received an undergraduate degree from Indiana State University and passed the state’s teacher licensing exams.
“He was a hardworking man,” the academy’s chaplain, Daniel Ortega, said in a video clip posted by Indianapolis Star reporter Justin L. Mack on Twitter. “He was always putting in the extra effort to make sure this was a great school for his kids.”