Update: Police identify 12-year-old killed in Niles weekend crash

By: Ryan Famuliner Email
By: Ryan Famuliner Email

Police say late Saturday night, a car going driving on South 11th Street south of Bell Street hit an adult and a 12-year-old trying to cross the five-lane highway.

The child was pronounced dead at the scene.

The adult, a 51-year-old male from the Niles area, was taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend where he is in critical condition with two broken legs, as well as head and internal injuries.

Police say a 23-year-old Niles Township woman hit the pair.

12-year-old Michael Soyk was killed, and 51-year-old Mike Martin is in critical condition.

Many are still having a hard time believing what happened.

An employee at the Party Store, just feet from the accident, was in a back room when she heard the horrible sounds.

"I heard the breaks, and then I heard the screaming and then I heard when she hit them it was like a bump, a thump, thump, thump. It was like 2 or 3 times, and I didn't even look. I immediately called the police," said Billian Austin.

The scene was solemn Monday, as a family mourns the loss of Michael Soyk: a son, brother and grandson, and police continue to investigate the crash.

Meanwhile, not too far away at Brandywine Elementary, where Soyk went to school, his classmates dealt with the tragedy Monday.

"The biggest question kids have is why does this sort of thing happen? There's no easy answer to that," said Superintendent Dr. John Jarpe.

Counselors were on hand to help students through the loss.

“Several of them I know played with him Saturday, before he passed away Saturday night. So they're experiencing ‘he's here, now he's not,’ so that's difficult for many of them," said Tim Bagby, Principal of Brandywine Elementary.

Austin is learning from that too, after seeing Michael at the Party Store earlier on Saturday.

"You can see them and then 5 minutes later they can be gone, or the next day they could be gone, and that's what, that's what I’m dealing with with Michael, as far as he was here at 4:30, and then at 10:45, he was gone,” Austin said.

Austin is also an employee with the Brandywine school system, and says she knew Michael as a student. She rushed to the scene Saturday, and says she was able to identify both of the victims before family arrived.

Now, many in the area are taking donations to help pay for the costs the family now faces; remembering his life that was tragically cut short.

"I hope the community helps out. The mother is struggling. She does need the support," said Austin.

A collection jar sits on the check-out counter of the Party Store, and family members are taking them to other area stores to see if they can help out.

Michael Soyk and Mike Martin were not related.

They both lived in the same nearby neighborhood, and Austin says they frequently visited the Party Store.

Visitation for Michael Lee Soyk is Wednesday at Halbritter Funeral Home, from 5pm – 7pm.

The funeral service immediately follows.

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