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Published: Tuesday, 3/6/2007

Memorial service set for bus crash victims


BLUFFTON, Ohio - A community memorial service for the four Bluffton University baseball players and the Columbus Grove couple killed in a bus crash in Atlanta Friday will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Founders Hall on campus.

James Harder, Bluffton University president, said at a news conference this morning that a committee today would begin planning the event, which is open to the public. He said he and his wife would be attending every visitation and funeral for the six victims which are being held this week in Bryan, Columbus Grove, Elida, Lewisburg, and Lima.

Calling the 1,200-student Mennonite school "a small university with a big and caring heart," Mr. Harder expressed gratitude for the support that has been extended from around the world and particularly thanked the emergency responders, hospitals, churches, and people of Atlanta.

"People who came to our assistance, people who have been praying for us, people we didn't even know, have been like the hand of God," he said.

David Betts of Bryan Scott Harmon and Tyler Williams, both of Lima, Ohio, and Cody Holp of Arcanum, Ohio, died in the early morning crash on I-75 in Atlanta. Bus driver Jerome Niemeyer and his wife, Jean, of Columbus Grove, also were killed. Six people - four players, a student assistant, and head coach James Grandey - remain hospitalized in Atlanta.

The baseball team was on its way to Florida for spring games when Mr. Niemeyer apparently mistook an exit lane for a regular lane and the bus crashed into a barrier and careened off the overpass back onto I-75 below.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com.

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