Students huddled at Trimble Tech High School on Thursday afternoon, eager for updates about a popular cheerleader and her boyfriend, a 2013 graduate, who were badly hurt when a car smashed into a crowd at South by Southwest in Austin.
The school community was already grieving for a student who was fatally stabbed last week.
Curtisha Davis, known as Tish, and Deandre Tatum, called Dre, were hospitalized at University Medical Center Brackenridge, said Carrie Black, cheerleading coach and cosmetology teacher.
Davis, a senior, had broken bones and other injuries, and Tatum was in the intensive-care unit with unspecified injuries, she said.
Two other Tech students were also in Austin for the festival. One was treated for injuries and released, and the other was unhurt, Black said.
Davis’ mother called her early Thursday, Black said, and she drove to Austin. Reached on her cellphone, she said she was with Davis in her hospital room.
“She’s in and out,” Black said. “But she can recognize me and talk to me. I can hug her, and she can tell me when she wants water or ice.”
Black said she became close to Davis while coaching her in cheerleading and teaching her in the cosmetology program.
“She’s a beautiful child and a beautiful student, inside and out,” Black said. “That’s why I took the drive down here.”
The students were among more than 20 people injured about 12:30 a.m. on Red River Street by a suspected drunken driver being chased by Austin police. A man from the Netherlands on a bicycle and an Austin woman on a moped were killed, police said.
The driver, Rashad Charjuan Owens, 21, was arrested.
Friends gather at Trimble Tech
Back in Fort Worth, Trimble Tech was closed for spring break, but students gathered outside for news about Davis and Tatum.
Chassity McLean, a fellow cheerleader, said she and Davis are best friends.
“She’s a funny person, really cool and outgoing,” she said. “She’s always smiling. I never saw her down. Never.
“My coach called me this morning. She said, ‘I have something to tell you about your best friend.’ I just saw her Friday and I told her to have fun and be careful.”
McLean said Davis and Tatum are “high school sweethearts” who have been dating for about three years.
Cheerleader Caylin Gibson, also a senior, said Davis is “really sweet and always making us happy.”
“Dre was the same way,” Gibson said. “That’s probably why they were in love. It’s hard. We’re not used to not talking to her.”
Chasten King said that he is best friends with Tatum and that they graduated together last year from Trimble Tech. He said both studied plumbing.
“He was always going positive,” King said. “If we all wanted to go out to eat and you needed money, he’d just give it to you. He didn’t want to see anybody down.”
King said he got a call early Thursday about the wreck.
“I still don’t want to believe it,” he said. “Then I got on the social network, Twitter, and everybody was saying, ‘Pray for Dre.’ So, it did happen.
“But he was just at my house and we were just chillin’.”
Wendell Ivory, head basketball coach, said he taught U.S. history to Davis and Tatum. He said he enjoyed joking with Davis, who waited until her senior year to become a cheerleader.
“I teased her a lot,” Ivory said. “I’d tell her she became a cheerleader to get in the games for free. But she’s a good student, very intelligent and very friendly.”
Black said she and other faculty members were already grieving the death of Jocelyn Saucedo, a junior who was fatally stabbed last week.
Saucedo was stabbed March 7 at Bryan Avenue and East Cantey Street, police said. Luis E. Torres, 20, was arrested.
Ivory noted that her death has been hard on everyone.
“I’ve been trying to get my head around it,” Ivory said. “She was in my class, too.”
Black said Saucedo was a manager of the cheer squad and a cosmetology student. She also was in the Junior ROTC program.
“She’s in a better place,” Black said of Saucedo, “but I want her here with me.”
Ivory said teachers will be challenged when classes resume Monday.
“It’s going to be a time with a lot of grief counselors,” he said. “As adults, we don’t have time to mourn or reflect because we have to take care of these kids.”