Hours after two Sabetha High School brothers celebrated their state championship win over Marysville, their mother, sister and uncle were killed in a crash.
Carmen Ukele, 42, Stephen Ukele, 62, and 11-year-old Marlee Ukele, all of Sabetha, died. The brother’s father, Lee Ukele, 59, was airlifted by a Life Star helicopter ambulance to Kansas City, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
The crash happened when Carmen Ukele tried avoiding a head-on collision with a car that attempted to pass a vehicle in the opposite lane of traffic, according to a report from the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Both vehicles swerved to the shoulder to avoid hitting each other, the report says.
As of Sunday, Lee Ukele was in stable condition after having surgeries overnight, the Capital-Journal reported.
Ukele is the father of Tanner and Carson Ukele, brothers who play on the Sabetha High School football team. Sabetha had just celebrated after defeating Marysville 7-6. It was the school’s third state championship in program history.
The family was driving home.
The Capital-Journal said the brothers learned about the crash while riding back from Hutchinson on the team bus. They left the bus with Sabetha head coach Garrett Michael in an administrative vehicle for Stormont-Vail Hospital.
Tanner Ukele is a senior, and Carson Ukele is a sophomore, according to the school’s roster.
Michael told WIBW TV that he has always instilled a message of faith and family into his players. He said he will work to support the Sabetha community moving forward.
Extra staff will be at Marlee Ukele’s school, Sabetha Elementary, for any counseling needs.