Fort Worth

‘Harder today than it was yesterday.’ Paschal community reels after student dies in crash

At random times of the day, Nick Delgadillo’s friends would receive Snapchat videos he had taken of himself dancing to music, usually in a style so wacky and distinctive they would have no choice but to laugh.

Delgadillo, 17, was known for his irreverent sense of humor, according to two close friends from Paschal High School, George Garcia and Grace Wimberly, both 16. But he was also a caring and thoughtful person, they said, willing to pick up the phone any time of day or night to help a friend. Once, he FaceTimed Wimberly at 1:30 a.m. just to ask how her day was, she recalled.

On Tuesday afternoon, as Delgadillo, a Paschal High junior, was driving back to school from lunch, he crashed his car into a tree on McCart Avenue on the TCU campus, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Garcia — who is also a junior, along with Wimberly — drove past the crash on his way back from lunch Tuesday and pulled over. Wimberly heard about the crash and immediately drove to the scene, joining Garcia and several more of Delgadillo’s friends.

The group stood along the street for more than an hour, watching police carry out their investigation.

In the 24 hours since the crash, Delgadillo’s friends have tried to remember their goofy, good-hearted, curly-haired friend — even if the news is still sinking in.

“He always made everyone laugh. He was always fun to be around,” Garcia said over the phone Wednesday. “I didn’t know anyone that didn’t like him.”

Wimberly said “no matter what kind of day you were having, he could brighten it by saying something weird and silly.”

“It’s definitely harder today than it was yesterday. It was so new yesterday,” she said. “A lot of us from the school have kind of been together, supporting each other.”

The Paschal High School community is grappling, together, with the loss of the young man who lived with a boisterous love of life that rubbed off on others.

Delgadillo’s friends, when they returned to school from the crash Tuesday, gathered in the library to comfort each other. And Principal Troy Langston wrote in an email to students and parents that counselors will be “available to any of our students or staff who want to talk about” their feelings.

People have left candles, flowers and crosses at the tree where Delgadillo crashed.

Friends organized a vigil that was held Wednesday night in front of the high school, near a flag pole and brick benches.

Soft crying at times broke the silence as mourning students and others stood holding candles.

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Hundreds gather outside Paschal High School on Wednesday night to mourn the death of Nick Delgadillo. The 17-year-old junior died Tuesday in a car accident near the school. Emerson Clarridge

Officer Tracy Carter, a Fort Worth police spokesman, said on Wednesday detectives were still investigating the crash. According to their preliminary investigation, the accident occurred about 1 p.m. Tuesday, when Delgadillo reportedly was racing with other students on McCart Avenue and he hit a tree, police have said.

Any possible charges would only come after police speak to all witnesses, Carter said.

Wimberly and Garcia know the people who were driving alongside Delgadillo, and they said they don’t believe they were racing. It wasn’t something they knew Delgadillo to do, they said.

Garcia first met him the summer before his sophomore year through friends. Delgadillo, who doesn’t have any siblings, was transferring into Paschal High School from the Harmony School of Innovation, Garcia said.

They hit it off and started playing video games together such as Call of Duty and Fortnite. They played football together at Paschal, and even though Delgadillo couldn’t suit up sophomore year due to an injury, he still came to practices to hang out with friends, Garcia said.

“That was pretty fun,” he said.

Pascnal High School students hold a vigil Wednesday night for junior Nick Delgadillo, 17, who died Tuesday in a car accident near the school. Emerson Clarridge

Wimberly became friends with Delgadillo through Garcia, whom she knew first. They would sometimes see movies, or walk through Foster Park and have conversations, she said.

Of course, she loved the Snapchat videos he would send her, typically showing him dancing or playfully flexing his muscles.

“He could always put a smile on your face,” Wimberly said. “He knew how to make people laugh.”

Garcia’s mother, Crystal Guerra Hunter, 40, drove to the scene of the crash Tuesday after her son called her in tears. She started crying, too, when she showed up, got out of her car and saw the severity of the crash.

She knew Delgadillo as a good friend to her son who had an “infectious smile,” she said.

On Wednesday morning, she was buying blue ribbons for her son and his friends to use in the vigil. Blue was Delgadillo’s favorite color.

“They want people to remember him for who he was,” she said.

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Jack Howland is a breaking news and enterprise reporter. Before coming to the Star-Telegram in May 2019, he worked for two and a half years as a breaking news reporter at the Poughkeepsie Journal in New York. He’s a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.