Two Northeast Tarrant actors among 5 “Texas” cast members killed in crash near Amarillo

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Two aspiring actors from Tarrant County were among five members of the musical drama Texas who were killed late Monday in a wreck near Amarillo.

Julian Arredondo of Haltom City, a 2011 graduate of Texas Christian University, and Eric Harrison, a 2010 graduate of Fossil Ridge High School and current student at West Texas A&M University, were killed in when the car they were in and an 18-wheeler collided north of Dumas.

The others killed, as identified by the Texas Department of Public Safety, were Clinton Diaz of Amarillo; Andrew Duncan of Wichita Falls; and Amanda Starz of Timonium, Md.

Arredondo, a 2007 graduate of Haltom High School, had just completed his third season with Texas, a long-running production performed every summer in Palo Duro Canyon, southeast of Amarillo.

“He was such a talented actor and dancer,” said June Bush of Haltom City, Arredondo’s mother, on Tuesday. “I can’t believe he’s gone now.”

TCU recruited Arredondo from Haltom High School, said Harry Parker, chairman of TCU’s theater department.

“Julian was a wonderful young man. He was a Nordan Fine Arts Scholar in the [theater department] where he appeared in such Theatre TCU productions as Little Women, A Chorus Line and Oklahoma!,” Parker said in an email to the Star-Telegram. “He made enormous contributions to our program during his time here.”

Parker described Arredondo as “genuine, kind and very thoughtful.”

“He was deeply engaged in life and had a contagious joy,” Parker said. “He was especially gifted at identifying and befriending those who sometimes felt like outsiders. He is being mourned deeply by the Theatre TCU family and his legion of friends.”

‘Just a wonderful guy’

Harrison, 21, was entering his senior year at West Texas A&M, where he studied theater, said his mother, Debbie Harrison. He didn’t perform in Texas, she said, but worked in the box office and was on the hospitality committee.

She said that she last saw her son this past weekend, when she and her husband, Henry, traveled to Canyon to see Texas on Saturday night.

“We had breakfast with him Sunday morning then came back,” she said.

Vonya Eudy, one of Harrison’s theater teachers at Fossil Ridge, said Harrison was heavily involved in theater, so much, in fact, that he gave up playing baseball his senior year to concentrate on acting. He was president of the school’s drama club his senior year, she said.

“He decided his senior year that theater was what he wanted to pursue,” Eudy said. “He was one of the hardest working actors I’ve ever had.”

Many postings on his Facebook page said Harrison was a strong Christian and that he wanted to be the “Tim Tebow of theater,” a man who openly wears his faith.

Both his mother and Eudy said the description was true.

“He was such a bright and intelligent, fun-loving Christian young man whose passion was theater,” his mother said.

Eudy said Harrison was involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, even after he quit playing baseball.

“He was just a wonderful guy, always joyful and positive,” said Eudy, explaining that she remained in contact with Harrison since going off to college.

“He usually come back this time of year and read my scripts, looking for monologues,” Eudy said.

Debbie Harrison said her son planned on going to graduate school and wanted to continue in theater.

“He just loved theater,” she said. “He went to New York over spring break and saw eight plays.”

Tuesday performance canceled

The crash occurred about 11:30 p.m. Monday at the intersection of U.S. 287 and Farm Road 119 north of Dumas. Diaz, driving a Ford Taurus, was turning from the farm road onto the highway when the car was hit by a southbound tractor-trailer, according to the DPS.

The 18-wheeler hit the Taurus broadside on the passenger’s side, according to a DPS news release. The truck’s load came off the trailer and landed on top of the car’s driver side, the release said.

Texas cast member Timothy Johnson of Portland, Ore., and the truck driver, Theron Arthur McSay of Fort Collins, Colo., were injured. Johnson was taken to Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo where he was listed in critical condition. McSay was taken to the same hospital. He was reported to be in stable condition.

Alcohol may have been a factor in the crash, according to the DPS.

Tuesday night’s performance of Texas was canceled, but executive director Kris Miller told the Amarillo Globe-News that the rest of the season — which is scheduled to end Saturday — may yet go on.

Miller said the cast members were driving back from the annual end-of-summer cast party south of Dumas. Texas, which is in its 48th season, is not staged on Monday nights.

‘Texas family is hurting’

“Our Texas family is hurting,” artistic director Dave Yirak posted on his Facebook page. “From season 1 to present day the strength of our show has been the wonderful, creative, talented and loving performers who have graced the Pioneer Amphitheater stage. This love has created a large family that binds us together and it is this family that we will all reach out to for strength to endure this loss. Bless Texas and bless this wonderful family. I love you.”

Former cast member Deana Grissom wrote on the show’s Facebook page that company members become “a family” during the summer-long run of the show.

“Please know that all of your Texas family is in our thoughts and prayers as well as the families of the six in the accident,” Grissom wrote.

Three of those killed in the crash were students at West Texas A&M. Besides Harrison, Diaz was a junior music theater/dance major, and Duncan was a senior accounting major.

This report contains information from the Amarillo Globe News and The Associated Press.

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763 Twitter: @mingoramirezjr Lee Williams, 817-390-7840 Twitter: @leewatson

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