Loved ones say Tabatha Romaker could often be found helping others and liked to volunteer at an animal shelter.
“She really knew what she wanted and knew where she wanted to go,” said sister Chanel Dalby of Joshua, adding that her younger sibling often helped with her college math homework.
Just days after Romaker, a Hurst L.D. Bell senior, learned that she had been accepted into Texas Woman’s University with aspirations of working as a trauma nurse or even as a brain surgeon, the 17-year-old died early Sunday, a few hours after she and her boyfriend, also 17, were in a crash on rain-slicked Interstate 20 in Arlington.
Arlington police believe the vehicle hydroplaned as the boyfriend tried to change lanes at about 9:45 p.m. on eastbound I-20 near Collins Street. The vehicle ended up sideways in traffic and was hit by another car.
Romaker died at 4:02 a.m., according to the Tarrant County medical examiner’s website.
Dalby said the crash happened as Romaker’s boyfriend was taking her home from dinner with his family at an Olive Garden restaurant.
“She was very selfless, even if she was having the worst day. If someone needed help, she would drop whatever she was doing and be there for them,” Dalby said. “The world is going to be a lot darker without her in it.”
Dalby said Romaker’s boyfriend of two years broke his jaw in the crash and is having reconstructive surgery. On Sunday evening he was in stable condition, she said.
A woman driving the second vehicle was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.
Staff writer Domingo Ramirez Jr. contributed to this report.