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Man dies after crash with Saint Francis bus

A Hammond man died after a car he was traveling in crashed with a bus carrying Saint Francis players, coaches and trainers, who were returning from a football game in Illinois on Saturday night.

Saint Francis football coach Kevin Donley, who was not on the bus that was struck on Interstates 80/94 in Hammond, said no one on the bus was injured. Joshua Walberg, 21, died.

"Our coaches that were on the bus said it was a crazy thing," Donley said Sunday. "It was a couple that got on the turnpike, and it looked like there was activity going on in the car, an argument or whatever. And they hit one of the guard rails on one side, went clear across into the other one and kind of spun out and the bus hit it. It was a real emotional thing. Our coaches and trainers got off and tried to assist in every way that they could, really, a tragic event."

Walberg was arguing with his girlfriend, 21-year-old Shawnna Popenhagen, when he grabbed the steering wheel of the car she was driving and triggered the accident, authorities told the Associated Press. Donley said he learned of the accident shortly after conducting a phone interview with The Journal Gazette at about 9 p.m., after the Cougars' 37-28 victory over Saint Francis (Ill.) in Joliet.

"We probably went several miles ahead, and our bus driver noticed our bus wasn't behind us," Donley said. "My son (Saint Francis co-offensive coordinator Patrick Donley) called one of the coaches, where's the other bus? We found out there was an accident."

Popenhagen was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., with what police described as "incapacitating injuries." The hospital isn't releasing information on her condition. She was wearing a seat belt but Walberg wasn't.

Donley said the bus he was traveling in with other coaches and players pulled into an oasis in LaPorte to unload and then the bus returned to the site of the accident to bring those passengers back to the oasis.

A second bus was called to take the rest of the team home, and Saint Francis coaches, trainers and players arrived back in Fort Wayne about 2:30 a.m., Donley said. The team was originally expected to return home from the game around midnight.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

tkrausz@jg.net

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