Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
A 53-year-old seminarian with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe — described as “a humble man who deeply cared for others” — and a 36-year-old driver have been identified as the two people who were killed when a charter bus ran off the road just north of Pueblo, Colorado, on Sunday afternoon.
Jason Paul Marshall had been assigned to the University of New Mexico’s Aquinas Newman Center for the summer, according to Celine Radigan, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese.
In a statement, Archbishop John Wester asked the community to pray for those injured and for the families of the men who were killed in the crash.
“Jason was a splendid and exemplary seminarian, a humble man who deeply cared for others,” Wester wrote in the statement. “He always brightened our spirits and had a positive outlook on life. We will miss him very, very much. May he rest in peace.”
Marshall was accompanying a group of nine juveniles to the Steubenville of the Rockies Youth Conference in Denver over the weekend. Four other adults were also passengers on the bus. The ages of the injured juveniles were not provided.
A Colorado State Patrol spokesman said five of the passengers — including one juvenile — were seriously injured in the crash. One passenger remained in critical condition at a hospital in Colorado Springs on Monday afternoon. Three other passengers remained at the hospital in Pueblo and the others sustained only minor injuries.
Colorado State Patrol officers said the bus was heading southbound on Interstate 25 back to Albuquerque when it struck part of a bridge, went off the road and crashed in a dirt ditch.
Initial reports indicated the driver suffered a medical issue, possibly a seizure, but CSP spokesman Sgt. Blake White said Monday that investigators are still waiting for the coroner’s office to complete its autopsy.
Although White said the driver’s next of kin had not yet been notified of his death, the Aquinas Newman Center identified him as Anthony Padilla, an employee of Follow the Sun Inc. charter bus company.
Colorado authorities had initially stated he was 22 years old, but Follow the Sun issued a statement Monday evening clarifying that he was 36.
“The entire Follow the Sun Inc. team is devastated by the accident that took the lives of one of our passengers and our driver yesterday,” the statement reads. “The 36-year-old driver was a beloved colleague who, according to initial accounts by Colorado State Patrol (CSP), appears to have suffered a medical episode prior to the accident. CSP also has indicated the bus was traveling below the speed limit at the time of the accident.”
Follow the Sun said the driver had worked for the company for the past year and had more than six years of experience driving buses.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of both the driver and the passenger. Our prayers are also with those who were injured,” the statement reads.
White said investigators are continuing to interview witnesses, some of whom also took videos of the crash. He said they don’t have any indication drugs or alcohol were involved, but are waiting for a toxicology report.
Marshall, born in Staten Island, New York, as one of four children attended Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, and was in his second year of theology, Radigan said.
She said he was a member of Our Lady of the Annunciation parish in Albuquerque.
Radigan said he had been assigned to the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Los Alamos and Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Las Vegas, N.M., and was currently placed with the Aquinas Newman Center.
Barbara Casey, a city councilor in Las Vegas and a longtime volunteer with Our Lady of Sorrows, said she remembers Marshall as a “kind, wonderful, quiet, and thoughtful man.” He was with the church last summer from about June to early August.
Casey said when she heard he had been assigned to the Aquinas Newman Center, she thought it was a good placement for him. He told her he was excited to come back to New Mexico.
“Although he wasn’t as young as some of the other seminarians, he was still very youthful,” she said. “He would have been a wonderful asset to the students at UNM that attend church there.”
Tearing up, Casey said Marshall was always going above and beyond to help people.
“Everyone seemed to really like him and welcomed him to the church community,” she said. “I’m sure that when people find out it was him who was killed in the crash, they’re going to be very sad to learn that, just like I was.”
Journal staff writer Katy Barnitz contributed to this report.