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One student killed, five injured in accident

Lindsey Smith

A tragic accident southeast of campus on Friday night claimed the life of one Abilene Christian University student and injured five others.

The six traveling in one vehicle were hit by another vehicle as they were driving south on Highway 36 in eastern Taylor County about 8:21 p.m. Friday. The driver of the other vehicle – whom Department of Public Safety officials say ran a stop sign on County Road 107 and into the path of the six students – died in the collision.

Killed in the accident was ACU junior advertising and public relations major Lindsey Smith of New Braunfels, Texas. She was in a vehicle driven by Robert “Bo” Braddock, senior biology major from Deer Park, Texas. Other passengers were Rebekah Cherniss, freshman journalism and mass communication major from Katy, Texas; Colleen “Callie” Kerbo, freshman marketing major from Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Deanna Romero, freshman international studies major from Omaha, Neb.; and Eric Terrazas, junior journalism and mass communication major from Argyle, Texas.

Braddock, Kerbo and Terrazas were treated and released from Abilene’s Hendrick Medical Center about 1 a.m. Saturday. Romero and Cherniss remained in Hendrick’s trauma center, according to hospital officials.

The Optimist, ACU’s student newspaper, reported that the six students were on their way to attend the traditional Grand Ole Oplin country western dance at the Oplin Community Center, held every Friday night for people of all ages. For decades, the event in nearby Callahan County, about 30 miles from campus, has been a popular gathering spot for students.

As soon as DPS officials notified ACU Police, Abilene Christian’s Emergency Response Team gathered in the university’s police headquarters while ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert and representatives from Student Life and other offices headed to Hendrick to assist the students and their families. Word of the accident spread quickly, and Hendrick’s ER was soon filled with concerned faculty, staff and students.

“We are grateful for the support of our campus community in difficult times such as these,” said Schubert (’91) in an email to students, faculty and staff just before 1 a.m. Saturday. “Your outpouring of heartfelt expressions of help has been overwhelming tonight.”

We will update readers when we have new information to share.