As news of a young Texas couple’s death spread throughout the area on Sunday, several schools, churches and towns were left reeling.
Jeremy Bowen, 28, a choir director at Granbury High School, and Ashley Morrison, 26, a music teacher at Hoover Elementary in Azle, left an impact on every life they touched, both together and separately, those who knew them said.
They sung in their church’s choirs and they recently traveled to China together. On Sunday, they died in a one-car wreck on Interstate 20 west of Weatherford sometime between midnight and 1 a.m. Investigators with the Texas Department of Public Safety say they had attended a party in Stephenville and were traveling back to Bowen’s Fort Worth apartment.
Their Chevy Cruze was found at about 8 a.m. Sunday. They were pronounced dead at the scene.
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Bowen and Morrison will both be remembered for their talent and heart, many said.
A shaken community
Ashley Nichole Odom, who knew Morrison from Fort Worth’s Camp Gladiator, a boot camp-style group workout, said that when she saw on Facebook that Morrison had died, she just cried.
“We used to work out in the early, early mornings at 5 a.m.,” Odom said. “She was one that you could always count on, that workout buddy. She was always just so encouraging and she just had a very good, sweet heart and a great personality.”
Odom held back tears as she talked to the Star-Telegram on Monday afternoon.
“It’s hard to say ‘was’ because it’s just so hard to believe that such a sweet soul left so soon,” she said. “She was just so loved and she is loved.”
Odom described Morrison as being down-to-earth.
“She was just the nicest girl you could come across and she was so smart,” Odom said. “She had a master’s degree at 26, she finished college and she had a good career. You could tell she loved what she did. She was just always so bright. And she was witty and funny.”
While she didn’t know Bowen, she said she could tell he and Morrison made a sweet couple.
“All of her (Facebook) posts with him were so cute,” Odom said. “You could just tell, you could just tell they really had love for each other.”
Department of Public Safety Sgt. Dub Gillum said his daughters went to high school with Bowen.
“The whole community has been shaken by this,” he said. “Everyone in the Granbury area knew him. Some troopers here knew him.”
“He was very talented,” Gillum continued. “He was just a great kid. Listen to me — he was 28 years old and I’m still calling him a kid.”
Bowen and Morrison graduated from Tarleton State University in Stephenville where they got degrees in music.
Bowen went on to study music education at Kansas State University where he was working on his master’s degree. In 2014, he studied collaborative piano in the graduate assistantship program at Baylor University.
He worked at the high school from which he graduated in 2008.
Last year, Morrison received her master’s degree in music from the University of Texas at Arlington, according to the Azle Independent School District.
Counselors were available at Granbury High, Granbury Middle and Hoover Elementary schools. Students in the Granbury Independent School District will have a half-day on Friday so they can attend funeral services for Bowen and Morrison.
Kendra Fisher, the head choir director at Granbury High School said she is deeply saddened by Bowen’s death.
“I am at a loss for words,” she said. “Jeremy Bowen was a great friend to me and will be truly missed. A truly outstanding musician and teacher with so much talent and potential. I am honored to have known him, to have worked with him, and to have called him my friend.”
Bowen previously worked at Granbury Middle School where he oversaw a program of seven choirs and more than 250 students. Before that, he taught at Guyer High School in Denton.
“Jeremy Bowen was one of a kind, talented beyond measure, loved and respected by all who knew him,” said GISD school board president Nancy Alana. “He had a smile without an end, always smiling. My heart breaks for his family, his students, his fellow staff members, his friends, and GISD. He will be greatly missed.”
DPS: Fatigue caused crash
Gillum said that troopers believe Bowen fell asleep or became tired and lost control of his car as the couple traveled back to Fort Worth from Stephenville.
Gillum said he believes the traffic accident happened between midnight and 1 a.m. Sunday just off I-20 near Weatherford in Parker County.
A preliminary investigation shows the car got into the center median and then went off an embankment and into a ravine before hitting the other side of the embankment.
A DPS trooper who was looking for loose livestock off I-20 just west of Weatherford found the wrecked vehicle at about 8 a.m. Sunday.
Star-Telegram reporter Domingo Ramirez Jr. contributed to this report.