Two Notre Dame students dead, one in hospital after being hit by car

Published: Oct. 24, 2020 at 9:43 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Update on the tragic crash that killed two women in South Bend this morning.

Notre Dame has just released the names of the two students. Those students have been identified as Valeria Espinel, 19, and Olivia Laura Rojas, 19, both first-year students at Notre Dame.

The third victim, identified as Eduardo Jose Elias Calderon, 19, of the Dominican Republic, remains in critical condition.

The driver, identified as 25-year-old Justin Cavallo, cooperated with authorities.

After the initial crash, a second vehicle was driving soutbound on Ironwood and struck at least one of the victims. The second vehicle, a Chevrolet Impala, struck Espinel. The driver of the Impala, Darlene Holden, 54, was uninjured and remained at the scene.

Notre Dame Rev. John I. Jenkins sent out the following email:

"Now that the University has reached their families and offered our deepest condolences, we write to follow up on our earlier message to share that the two students who died early this morning are first-year students Valeria Espinel and Olivia Lara Rojas.

Valeria lived in Badin Hall, was from Guayaquil, Ecuador, and was planning to major in Economics in the College of Arts and Letters. Olivia lived in Cavanaugh Hall, was from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, and was planning to study in the Mendoza College of Business. The entire Notre Dame community grieves their loss, and our prayers are with their families and loved ones.

A third student remains hospitalized, and our prayers for his family and his recovery continue.

We will come together as a campus community this evening for a prayer service at 8 p.m. in front of Bond Hall. Please wear a mask and practice physical distancing as we pray for Valeria, Olivia, their families, and all who loved them. A procession to the Grotto will follow the prayer service."

Two people are dead and another is in critical condition after being hit by a car early Saturday morning in South Bend.

The crash happened just after 4 a.m. Saturday near Ironwood and State Road 23.

A Toyota Sienna minivan was traveling southbound on Ironwood.

When investigators arrived, they pronounced two people dead at the scene. A third person was sent to the hospital in critical condition.

The car continued down the road, made a sharp left, and crashed into a house. The driver stayed at the scene and answered questions from police.

The two deceased victims are both female and first year students at the University of Notre Dame, and the victim sent to the hospital was a sophomore at the University. The President of the University of Notre Dame, Rev. John Jenkins, was at the scene.

The following email was sent to students and staff earlier today:

"Dear Notre Dame students,

We are deeply saddened to write with tragic news that two first year Notre Dame students were killed and one sophomore is hospitalized after being hit by a car last night. The accident occurred on Ironwood Road near Bulla Road in South Bend, and the driver remained at the scene.

The University is working with local officials to notify the students' families, so we urge you to avoid speculation and sharing information on social media. Please help us ensure these students' families and closest friends hear about their loved ones first. We will share more information with you as soon as we are able to do so.

The University Counseling Center (574-631-7336) and Campus Ministry (574-631-7800) are both available to students to offer support during this very difficult time. We will also soon share further information about gathering together in prayer.

Please pray for our students, their families, and all who love them.


Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., University President

Ms. Erin Hoffmann Harding, Vice President for Student Affairs"

No word yet on what caused the crash. The St. Joseph County FACT team is investigating.

Stay with 16 News Now as we continue to follow this developing story.

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