Faith brings a community together in the face of a tragedy

Faith brings a community together in the face of a tragedy
Photo Courtesy: Kansas State High School Activities Association

SABETHA, Kan. (AP) — A high school football team in northeastern Kansas is coping after a head-on collision killed three family members of teammates.

The Sabetha High school football team won a state championship game on Saturday. But on the way home, players Tanner and Carson Ukele were told that three of their relatives died in a two-vehicle highway crash.

Their 42-year-old mother Carmen Ukele, 11-year-old sister Marlee Ukele and 62-year-old uncle Stephen Ukele were killed in the collision on U.S. Route 75. Their 59-year-old father Lee Ukele was also in the vehicle. He was in stable condition as of Sunday.  The Kansas Highway Patrol reports that Carmen Ukele was the driver of Chrysler minivan that was northbound on U.S. 75.  48-year-old Maria Perez-Marquez, of Omaha, was driving a southbound Chevrolet Equinox.  She was attempting to pass another vehicle when the van and SUV both swerved to the shoulder to avoid a collision, but collided head-on.

A police report says the two people in the Equinox were injured and taken to a hospital.

The accident happened about 12 miles north of Holton, Kansas.  Sabetha High School’s football team had defeated Marysville, Kansas 7-6, for the class 3A state title.

Head coach Garrett Michael says Tanner and Carson have the support of the community and “50 brothers who are going to be surrounding them in our school.”