AP
Baseball team bus crash claims 7th life

By DANIEL YEE, Associated Press writer Fri Mar 9, 12:33 PM ET

ATLANTA - A college baseball player pulled from the wreckage of his team's charter bus died of his injuries Friday, raising the death toll from last week's crash to seven.

Zach Arend, 18, had been in critical condition since the bus went off a highway overpass before dawn last Friday.

He died about 6 a.m., said Grady Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Denise Simpson. Arend's grandmother, Ann Miller, had said the Ohio teenager had suffered chest and abdominal injuries, a fractured pelvis and collapsed lungs.

"He had a great sense of humor," said Mike Engler, a sophomore who suffered minor injuries in the crash. "He got along with everybody."

Arend's parents, Dana and Caroline, wrote in a family statement that he was a wonderful son. "He loved baseball, and he loved being with his family and friends."

Four of Arend's Bluffton University teammates, the bus driver and the driver's wife were killed when the bus plowed off an overpass in Atlanta and crashed onto the Interstate 75 pavement below. More than two dozen others aboard were injured.

The Ohio team's coach, James Grandey, was listed in stable condition in the intensive care unit at Piedmont Hospital Friday. Two players remained hospitalized at Grady Memorial, one in critical condition and one in fair condition, Simpson said. Another player was in stable condition at Atlanta Medical Center.

Investigators have said the driver apparently mistook an exit ramp for a highway lane, continued along it without stopping at a "T" intersection at the top of the ramp and then went over the edge.

Team member Kyle King, talking to reporters from his hospital room earlier this week, said most of the players were asleep when he heard the bus driver's wife scream, the tires screech and the bus hit the concrete barrier.

On Thursday, hundreds of mourners gathered in the Ohio towns of Lima and Lewisburg for the funerals of his Bluffton teammates Tyler Williams and Cody Holp, both 19.

Williams' cleats and glove rested among the flowers at Philippian Missionary Baptist Church in Lima. Outside were pictures from his life, many showing the outfielder in uniform.

"Tyler was already making a difference in this world," Bluffton President James Harder said. "A difference that will now be missing."

Sixty-five miles away in Lewisburg, mourners held copies of a poem Holp had written that read: "I hope to change the world when I die so when looked upon they say he was a good man."

"Cody wanted people to smile, so he started the contagion by smiling all the time himself," the Rev. Mike Pratt said. "That's what makes him so unforgettable and his legacy enduring."

The crash also killed the bus driver and his wife, Jerome and Jean Niemeyer, and players David Betts and Scott Harmon. Arend had been a pitcher at Paulding High School, a small school in rural northwest Ohio.

The team had been scheduled to play Eastern Mennonite University in Florida. Instead, players from the school in Harrisonburg, Va., attended a memorial service.

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