GREENSBURG, Pa. – A woman who survived a bus crash that killed two of her Notre Dame swimming teammates will be the commencement speaker at Seton Hill University, whose pregnant women’s lacrosse coach was killed in a team bus crash last month.
Haley Scott DeMaria, 39, who now lives in Annapolis Md., initially paralyzed from the waist down by the crash in 1992, but through surgeries and rehabilitation learned to walk again and rejoined the university’s swim team.
Seton Hill’s coach, 30-year-old Kristina Quigley, was killed along with the bus driver when the vehicle crashed March 16, while carrying 23 players and coaches to a match. The school canceled the rest of its lacrosse season.
“There’s definitely is a connection and understanding that I think you can only feel if you’ve lived through it,” DeMaria told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, which reported Monday that she’ll speak at Seton Hill’s commencement on May 11.
“The biggest message I hope to share is that life doesn’t take you down the path you planned, but it can still be a really good path,” DeMaria said. “We all go through something that changes us, and that’s OK.”
DeMaria now travels as a motivational speaker and has written a book about her experiences called, “What Though The Odds: Haley Scott’s Journey of Faith and Triumph.”
“At a time when our campus is mourning a terrible loss of our own, we are sustained by Haley’s story of courage and perseverance,” said Seton Hill president JoAnne Boyle. “Embraced by a strong, faith-based community, Haley chose to write a story for herself different from the one that had been cast on the fateful night she lost two friends and teammates.”
DeMaria was injured when a team bus skidded on ice and flipped off a highway just two miles from the Notre Dame campus as the team returned from a meet against Northwestern University.
Quigley and her unborn son were killed along with bus driver Anthony Guaetta, 61, of Johnstown, when Seton Hill’s bus crashed on the way to a match against Millersville University.
Seton Hill, like Notre Dame, is a private Catholic school. It is located about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh.
DeMaria gave the commencement address at Notre Dame last year.