By Ken Camp
A Baylor University student and a recent graduate were killed in a one-car accident about 30 miles southeast of Waco. Another Baylor student and an incoming freshman also sustained serious injuries in the wreck.
The four musicians were en route to perform at an International Clarinet Association meeting at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Jack Stewart, a 19-year-old junior instrumental studies major from Dallas, and Laura Onwudinanti, 21, of Grand Prairie, who earned her bachelor’s degree in music education from Baylor in May, were killed in the crash.
Jake Hale, a 21-year-old instrumental music major from Fort Worth, and Megan Ritzi, an 18-year-old incoming freshman from Fort Worth, were taken to Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Temple. Hale was listed in fair condition, and Ritzi was critical.
“The hearts of the Baylor University family and our School of Music are broken today as we mourn the passing of these remarkably talented students who have been taken too soon from us,” Baylor President Ken Starr said.
“We pray that God’s grace and comfort will surround the families and friends of Jack Stewart and Laura Onwudinanti at this terribly sad hour. We continue to labor in prayer for Jake Hale and Megan Ritzi, and for their attending physicians, as they are treated for their injuries. We ask the Baylor family to keep all loved ones and friends, and our School of Music faculty, staff and students, in their thoughts and prayers.”
The Dallas Morning News quoted a Texas Department of Public Safety trooper as saying the group was traveling on State Highway 7 east of Marlin about 9:30 p.m. July 28 when their pickup truck drifted off the road. The driver, Hale, overcorrected and lost control of the vehicle, which hit a tree on the passengers’ side. All of the students were wearing seat belts.