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Crash kills dad, 2 teen daughters

February 12, 2019

A Ligonier man and his two teenage daughters died Monday morning after their car slid off a snow-covered road and into the Elkhart River, where it flipped over and became submerged, the Noble County Sheriff’s Department said.

Through social media, the girls’ schools : West Noble High and West Noble Middle schools : encouraged parents to hug their children and be available to talk with them as needed.

The fatal crash happened shortly before 10 a.m. on a day that prompted many school districts, including West Noble Schools, to operate on a two-hour delay.

J.J. Reyes, 50, was driving south on Noble County Road 700 West and lost control at the curve at Ball Road, the sheriff’s department said. The Toyota slid off the road, into a ditch and then into the river, where the car was carried about 180 feet downstream before flipping over and submerging, police said.

“It appears the driver’s speed was too fast for conditions,” the sheriff’s department said.

The crash happened less than a mile north of U.S. 6 and less than two miles east of Ligonier in western Noble County.

The Ligonier Fire Department attached a tow cable to the vehicle to pull it from the river. Reyes and his daughters : Zulia and Valeria Reyes : were pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Zulia, 15, was a sophomore at West Noble High School. Valeria, 13, was an eighth-grader at West Noble Middle School. The schools described both as beloved.

The high school will have grief counselors available, and the middle school has staff available for anyone wanting to know how to talk to children about loss, the schools said on Twitter.

Those replying to the schools’ tweets described the situation as heartbreaking and offered the West Noble community prayers and condolences.

West Noble High School indicated on Twitter the prayers are appreciated. “Kids are hurting right now,” the school said.

The crash remained under investigation Monday by the sheriff’s department and conservation officers from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

asloboda@jg.net

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