IDA, MICH. -- Bluffton University baseball player Tim Berta has spent the past few weeks in an Atlanta hospital. Happily, his community is rallying around Tim's family to help them with their increasing medical bills.
Berta was injured in the March 2 bus crash that killed five of his teammates, the bus driver and the bus driver's wife. The bus carrying the team crashed around 5:30 that morning. The students had been on their way to Sarasota, Fla., to play in a double header with Eastern Mennonite University before heading to Ft. Myers to participate in the Gene Cusic Classic.
Atlanta Police spokesman Joe Cobb says the driver apparently mistook the exit lane for part of the carpool lane and continued over the side of the overpass. The bus tumbled over a fence and guard rail, and landed on its left side.
News 11's Jennifer Boresz spent Wednesday afternoon in Ida where people have posted fliers in stores and signs outside of businesses, all to encourage residents to help one of their own.
A spaghetti dinner will be held at St. Joseph's Church hall this Saturday from 4:30 to 7:30 to raise money for the Berta family. Since Tim has been in the hospital since the accident, medical bills have been accumulating.
"He is a sweetheart," said Jessica Davis, who's known Tim for years. "He's always been a real nice guy. Even if he didn't know you, he treated you real well."
Davis said she's happy Applebee's, her employer, will be helping out with a fundraiser on March 28.
"You come in, have your dinner and 10 percent of the proceeds will go to the family for whatever they need," Davis said.
"It was kind of surreal. It's just hard to believe that it happened to somebody that you've known for so long," said Jessica Davis. "We're small. We're homegrown. That's just the way the community is in Ida, and we always pull together."
Also, Ruth Ruehs, the manager at the Ida Monroe Bank and Trust, says it's still possible to help by donating to the Tim Berta Family Fund.
Meanwhile, down in Bluffton, the baseball team has decided to start its season on March 30 with a home game.