A Baylor University student and a recent graduate were killed and two students were seriously injured Tuesday morning in a one-vehicle crash east of Marlin in Central Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety reported.
The four were in a pickup that went out of control and slammed into a tree on Texas 7 about three miles east of Marlin near the Falls and Limestone county line, said DPS Trooper D.L. Wilson.
Two passengers — Laura Onwudinanti, 21, of Grand Prairie and John “Jack” Stewart, 19, of Dallas — were pronounced dead at the scene, Wilson said.
Jacob Hale of Fort Worth, the pickup driver, was taken to Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, where he was listed in fair condition. A third passenger, Megan Ritzi, 18, of Fort Worth, was in very critical condition at the hospital, he said.
Scott & White is the only Level 1 trauma center in Central Texas.
The students were traveling to perform at the International Clarinet Association meeting at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, according to a Baylor news release.
“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 and Chancellor Ken Starr said in a Tuesday news release. “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,” Starr said. “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.”
Onwudinanti earned her bachelor’s degree in music education in May, the news release said. Stewart was a junior instrumental major.
Hale is a senior instrumental major. Ritzi is an incoming freshman who graduated from Boswell High School, according to the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw school district’s website.
DPS troopers responded to the crash about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday a few miles from Marlin southeast of Waco.
The 2003 Dodge pickup was eastbound when it drifted off the highway, according to DPS reports. The driver tried to correct but lost control. The pickup flipped on its side and slid into the tree, Wilson said, adding that neither speed nor alcohol appeared to be factors in the crash. All were wearing seat belts, he said.
Staff writer Sarah Bahari contributed to this report.