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SOUTH BEND — Two Notre Dame students were killed and one was injured after being hit by a vehicle early Saturday morning in South Bend.

The university identified those killed as Valeria Espinel, 19, from Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Olivia Lara Rojas, 19, from Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Both were first-year students, according to a Saturday afternoon news release. A third student, a sophomore, is hospitalized.

“On behalf of the entire Notre Dame community, I express our deepest condolences and pray that our students’ families and friends may find God’s grace and solace after so shattering a loss,” President Rev. John I. Jenkins said in the news release. “We also pray for a full recovery of our student who remains hospitalized as a result of the accident.”

The university earlier in the day worked with local authorities to notify the victims’ families.

The three were hit in the 54000 block of Ironwood Drive near Ironwood and Bulla roads, according to police and residents in the area. The crash occurred about 4 a.m.

The vehicle is believed to have hit the three students, who were walking in the street, and then crashed into a house. There are no sidewalks in the area.

The driver remained at the scene and cooperated with police.

The Stadium Club Apartments are located at the northwest corner of the intersection, across the street from the house where the vehicle crashed. Several Notre Dame upperclassmen and graduate students live in the apartment complex.

The owner of the house, who did not want to be identified, said he was sleeping at the time of the crash. The vehicle, he said, veered into his yard, avoided two trees and then crashed into his bedroom wall, at the front of the house.

“I heard the boom, felt the house shake and heard stuff fall off the wall,” he said.

He said he called 911 then stepped outside to see the driver and a passenger outside the vehicle, a minivan. He told the driver to turn off the engine, and the driver waited for police, who eventually led him off in handcuffs, the homeowner said.

Contact Mary Beth Spalding of the South Bend Tribune at 574-235-6156 or  [email protected].

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