Uncle: Child who survived I-65 crash will ‘be fine’
By Carrie Napoleon and Teresa Auch Schultz Post-Tribune April 16, 2014 8:06PM
Mallik Chaganti, from his Unity Healthcare listing.
Updated: May 19, 2014 1:58PM
The child who survived an early morning crash Tuesday on Interstate 65 that killed a well-known local doctor and two of his children is doing well and is expected to recover, his uncle said Wednesday.
Mohan Chaganti said Wednesday he was still dealing with the aftermath of the crash that killed his brother.
Dr. Mallik Chaganti’s brother did not provide further details.
“He’ll be fine,” Chaganti said of the child, who has not been identified.
Mallik Chaganti had dropped his wife at O’Hare International Airport, where she planned to catch a flight to India to visit her sick father, Mohan Chaganti said. Mallik Chaganti, 45, was driving a 2008 Toyota Sequoia south on I-65 three miles south of the Roselawn exit shortly before midnight when his vehicle rear-ended a truck that had slowed down because another semi truck had crashed earlier and leaked nitric acid onto the interstate.
The crash killed Chaganti and two of his children.
Jasper County Coroner Andrew Boersma on Wednesday said he was not identifying the children who died because he has not received confirmation that their mother has been notified of their deaths.
Boersma said Vajaya Chaganti traveled to India and had not been informed of the magnitude of the crash. He said she is aware one of her children is in the hospital.
“Until myself or one of the other doctors speaks to her, I am not releasing the children’s names,” he said.
The youngest Chaganti child attends St. Augustine Catholic School for preschool through fifth-grade students.
Principal Anne Dumas on Wednesday said the school would have no comment on the crash or the family. The two older children had attended St. Augustine but had moved on to Rensselaer Central Middle School.
Ned Spiecher, superintendent of Rensselaer Central School Corp., said the school is continuing to make counselors available for the students and staff.
The Clinic of Family Medicine, where Mallik Chaganti worked, reopened for business Wednesday. Staff at the facility declined to comment, referring questions to the clinic’s partner, Unity Healthcare of Lafayette. Calls to Unity Healthcare were not returned Wednesday.
Timothy Schreeg, president and CEO of Jasper County Hospital, said Chaganti was on the hospital’s active medical staff and had joined in June 2002. He said the hospital has made counselors available to staff and students at St. Augustine, and that the hospital staff is trying to come to grips with the loss of not only the doctor but the children, who were involved in sports and the community and were known by many.
“That’s hurting us almost as much as the loss of Dr. Chaganti,” Schreeg said.
Mental health professionals will be available for the hospital staff who may need it early next week. Many are still in a state of disbelief. He said it will take some time before they come to terms with the reality of the situation and that may be when they need some counseling.
“We really need to give our staff some time. Some will come to terms. Some will need help,” Schreeg said.
The hospital and its staff would like to conduct some type of memorial for the family, but he does not know what form that memorial may take or when it may occur.
“We have to be sensitive to their culture. It’s just too early,” Schreeg said, adding he wants to discuss any plans with Vajaya Chaganti before anything is planned. “We will help them as much as we can.”