A Columbus Christian High School junior was listed in critical condition after he and a former classmate were injured in a single-vehicle accident in northern Jennings County.

Levi Sallee, 16, was a passenger in a vehicle driven by his friend, 19-year-old Adriane Polley, when the vehicle left the road about 7:55 p.m. Friday about a quarter mile from Polley’s home on County Road 1000 North, said Kendall Wildey, Columbus Christian administrator.

Wildey, who was attending the Jennings County High School football game, said he was notified by phone and rushed to the accident site, arriving about 30 minutes after the accident occurred.

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“Adriane was already in an ambulance. They had just pulled Levi from the vehicle and had put him on the stretcher. They were just wheeling him to the ambulance,” Wildey said.

The injured teens were transported to Crossroads Community Church, from where they were taken by LifeLine helicopter to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis, the school administrator said.

Sallee, the high school student who suffered head injuries, was listed in critical condition at 11 a.m. Sunday, hospital spokesman Gene Ford said.

Polley, who graduated from Columbus Christian this spring and is attending classes as a freshman at Ivy Tech Community College, was listed at the same time in good condition, Ford said.

Both teens have Elizabethtown addresses in Jennings County.

Polley’s car rolled several times after he lost control and hit a telephone pole, said Ron Bridgewater, pastor at East Columbus Christian Church, where the two teens and their families attend. The church and Columbus Christian School are located in the same building at 3170 Indiana Ave. in Columbus.

After Polley’s vehicle hit the telephone pole, snapping it, the vehicle took out a mailbox, also on the north side of the road, before also striking a tree on the south side of the road and coming to a stop in the front yard of a residence near a cornfield, Wildey said.

The pair had come upon a crossroad with a rounded hump, Wildey said.

“They were going pretty quickly, I don’t know how fast. When they went over the bump, Adriane lost control,” Wildey said.

According to a social media posting Saturday by Columbus Christian School, “Levi has had surgery to explore the injuries to his head. He is unresponsive and on a ventilator. Adriane has multiple broken bones and is resting.”

Wildey provided additional information on the teens’ medical conditions Sunday morning.

Of Sallee, the son of Michelle and Tom Sallee, the school administrator said, “He is only being aided by the ventilator. It is not breathing for him. We’re encouraged by that.”

Additionally, however, he said Sallee “still has not woken up.”

Injuries to Polley, the son of Darrell and Melissa Polley, were less severe, with fractures on five vertebrae in his back, Wildey said.

Supporting families

In the aftermath of the accident, the church and school community called a prayer vigil for 8:30 p.m. Saturday in the school parking lot, which Bridgewater said more than 100 people with ties to the church, school and the teens’ families attended.“The group gathered, read Scripture, sang a couple of songs, split off into small groups – and those small groups then prayed for both boys and their families,” Bridgewater said.

The vigil itself lasted 35 to 40 minutes, but some people lingered for another 45 minutes, he said.

Twenty-four hours earlier, after word spread of the accident, about 50 people drove to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis to comfort the Sallee and Polley families, Bridgewater said.

“It demonstrates how tight-knit the school is,” he said.

During the two Sunday morning services at East Columbus Christian, where about 300 people regularly attend, Bridgewater said “love offerings” were taken to be given to both families, “especially the Sallees, who have a long road ahead of them.”

About the students

Polley was vice president of the student council during his senior year, and was salutatorian of his graduating class, Wildey said. He played basketball at Columbus Christian and had an offer to play at Cincinnati Christian University, but opted to stay closer to home and attend classes at Ivy Tech instead, the principal said.Sallee was also involved in sports at Columbus Christian, playing soccer, basketball and baseball, as well as being active in the drama department, Wildey said.

Both teens participated in a mission trip to San Luis Potosi in central Mexico over nine days in late July, arranged through East Columbus Christian Church as part of a Columbus North High School student’s senior project, Wildey said.

“The biggest part was to put on a Bible school, in which about 150 kids attended. They also went through the community and delivered some basics of food. They had care packages that they delivered around the city door-to-door,” Wildey said.

Columbus Christian will be collecting money when classes resume Tuesday after the Labor Day holiday, to purchase gift cards for the families to use on gasoline, food, hotel stays and any other needs that arise.

Donors are being asked to drop off their gifts at the school office.

How to help

Columbus Christian School is accepting monetary donations Tuesday at the school office, 3170 Indiana Ave., Columbus, to be given to the families of a current and former student injured Friday night in a single-vehicle crash in Jennings County.

Information: 812-372-3780.

Pull Quote

“They were going pretty quickly, I don’t know how fast. When they went over the bump, Adriane lost control.”

— Columbus Christian administrator Kendall Wildey of driver Adriane Polley and passenger Levi Sallee