Former ACU student Clinton Diaz was among the five fatalities of a car accident in the Texas Panhandle in early August.
On the night of Aug. 12, Diaz, 20, of Amarillo, was the driver for a group of five other cast and crew members of the summer musical “Texas” as they returned from an end-of-the-year party.
According to Texas Department of Public Safety officials, Diaz ran a stop sign at U.S. 287, about 40 miles north of Amarillo, and pulled out into the path of an 18-wheeler truck.
Plowing into the passenger side, the 18-wheeler’s load toppled off the truck, landing on the vehicle’s driver side. Five of the six passengers were pronounced dead at the scene.
In addition to Diaz, those killed in the crash were Andrew Duncan, 20, from Wichita Falls, Amanda Starz, 20, from Timonium, Md., Julian Arredondo, 24, from Haltom City, and Eric Harrison, 21, from Fort Worth.
The Abilene Reporter-News reported that investigators suspected alcohol may have been a factor in the accident.
The drama production “Texas” takes place in Palo Duro Canyon State Park south of Amarillo, drawing crowds of 65,000 each summer.
The deaths stunned Diaz’s fellow performers at the musical “Texas,” where he worked after transferring in January 2013 to West Texas A&M University. Ashley Williams, a “Texas” dancer and student at WT, said this was Diaz’s first year to be a part of the musical.
“Dancing was his passion,” she said.
Diaz was a musical theatre major at ACU but transferred to WT for the fall semester, planning to major in dance.
Diaz’s death deeply resonated with ACU students, said Matthew Taylor, a second-year graduate student in school psychology, from Cedar Hill.
The evening after the accident, students organized a candlelight vigil for Diaz outside the Beauchamp Amphitheater. The time was spent singing, praying and speaking words of encouragement for those hurting, Taylor said.
“For such sort notice, it was very nice having the ACU community be able to come together and support one another,” he said, “especially with all the hardships that have come to our community in the past two years.”
Taylor said details of the vigil spread via social media and word of mouth. The memorial witnessed the impact Clint made during his time at ACU, he said.
“Clint was an inspiration and a light to this campus and to everyone he interacted with on a daily basis,” he said. “He was a great friend, brother, and man of God. He will be greatly missed by people everywhere.”