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Seminarian killed in bus crash laid down life for others, say witnesses

Jason Paul Marshall

Archdiocese of Santa Fe Official | Facebook | Fair Use

John Burger - published on 07/02/19

Jason Marshall took action that may have averted an even worse disaster.

A seminarian who died in a bus crash last week on the way to New Mexico from a Catholic youth conference in Denver often said that priests have to be ready to lay down their lives for others.

Reports emerging from the horrific accident, which took the life of one other person, are suggesting that Jason Marshall did just that.

“Priests have to be men. They have to be ready. They have to be shepherds and they have to be ready to stand up and potentially lay their lives down,” Marshall would say, according to the recollection of Matthew Gubenski, a fellow seminarian of Marshall’s at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio.

According to witnesses and the family of Marshall, the 53-year-old tried to regain control of the bus after a reported medical incident with its driver, 22-year-old Anthony Padilla, the Catholic Herald reported.

“He saw the driver in distress, grabbed the wheel and prevented the bus from flipping,” Marshall’s brother Jeff told Staten Island Live.

Most of Marshall’s family lives in New York. Marshall was studying to be a priest for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Though the accident, which took place June 23 near Pueblo, Colorado, is still under investigation, it seemed clear to some observers that Marshall’s jumping into action might have made a big difference. Marshall and Padilla were the only ones killed in the crash, out of the 14 passengers on board, including 10 teenagers.

“A bus that big and so top heavy carrying that kind of momentum, it could have been absolutely disastrous. It could have been so horrible,” Father Rob Yaksich, a priest of the Sante Fe archdiocese, told local ABC affiliate KOAT Channel 7 News.

Marshall was a chaperone for a group from the University of New Mexico Aquinas Newman Center attending the annual Steubenville of the Rockies youth conference. The charter bus was traveling southbound on Interstate 25 toward Albuquerque when it struck a bridge embankment around 2:30 p.m., according to Colorado State Patrol. The front of the bus sustained significant damage. Emergency workers had to extricate some of the passengers, whose injuries ranged from minor to critical, Staten Island Live said.

At 53, Marshall was an “older vocation” at the seminary—and reportedly had a way of making people feel listened to and loved.

“I knew that he was good at talking to people,” Gubenski told the Herald, “but I didn’t realize how close everyone there felt with him. You hear stories about St. John Bosco, how every single kid in the oratory felt like they were his favorite. Jason was always ready to listen, and really get you inspired, and help you in whatever way you needed to be helped. And I didn’t realize he had done that for so many people.”

Marshall was usually the first person in the chapel, and the last to leave, he added.

“I know that each of us has been inspired to just try to be to other people what we saw Jason doing,” Gubenski told the newspaper.

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