One ACU junior, Lindsey Smith, 20 from New Braunfels, is confirmed dead in a head-on collision on TX-36 near Abilene Regional Airport at 8:21 p.m. Friday. Five other ACU students in the pickup truck were taken to Hendrick Medical Center. Injuries range from mild to severe, but none are life-threatening. The driver of the other pickup truck also died in the accident.
Bo Braddock, 20; Eric Terrazas, 20; Callie Kerbo, 18; Rebekah Cherniss, 18; and Deanna Romero, 19, were all injured in the accident. The DPS sent a press release Friday night that said Braddock was taken to Hendrick in a Care Flight helicopter, the rest by ambulance, but Kerbo said she rode in an ambulance with Braddock to the hospital.
Braddock, Terrazas and Kerbo were discharged on Friday night. Cherniss and Romero remain in the trauma care center being treated. Romero is in good condition with a fractured L1 vertebra in her lower back. Cherniss is in fair condition.
The six students were going to Oplin Dance Hall Friday evening when 27-year-old Jeffrey Davis of Abilene ran a stop sign on County Road 107 and turned left toward Abilene in front of Braddock, who was driving the Ford pickup. The speed limit at that section of TX-36 is 75 mph.
Grant Rampy, ACU director of public relations, said there is no indication that Davis was intoxicated at the time of the crash.
“We may never know what was at the root cause of the accident, but that it appeared there were no other factors involved beyond the fact that one of the drivers apparently made a critical mistake,” Rampy said.
Rampy said a woman living within a mile of the crash site was the first to respond and contact emergency services.
“She told me how proud she was of the ACU students who kept their calm under the worst of conditions,” Rampy said.
ACU Police Chief Jimmy Ellison said Smith and Davis were pronounced dead at the scene. Ellison said the accident is being investigated by the Texas Department of Public Safety Highway Patrol. Ellison said ACUPD were notified about the crash by DPS officials quickly after it occurred.
|Robert Braddock||Rebekah Cherniss||Callie Kerbo||Deanna Romero||Eric Terrazas|
“We initiated our university’s emergency response team because of the student fatality,” he said. “University administrators, President Schubert, Executive-Vice President Garrett, Dr. Thompson, Suzanne Allmon, several senior administrators to the university responded to the hospital and also to the police station to manage the crisis.”
Ellison said the first priority was to give comfort and support to students at the hospital and to communicate with families. He said Spiritual Life and counseling personnel were sent to the hospital to help students affected.
“It’s not just a crash involving students. The university takes immediate steps to make sure they’re doing everything possible for the students and their families,” Ellison said.
We will continue to update the story as we receive more information.