One-Vehicle Crash Leaves 2 BU Students Dead, One Fighting For Life

By: Paul J. Gately (KWTX) Email
By: Paul J. Gately (KWTX) Email

FALLS COUNTY (July 29, 2014) A Baylor University student and a May graduate of the university died and two other students were injured, one critically, Tuesday morning when the pickup truck in which they were riding veered off state Highway 7 and slammed into a tree in Falls County near the Limestone County line, Department of Public Safety Trooper D.L. Wilson said.

The eastbound pickup evidently drifted onto the shoulder and the driver over-corrected, which caused the truck to veer off the highway and hit the tree, authorities said.

Laura Ezinwa Onwudinanti, 21, of Grand Prairie, who was riding in the front passenger seat, and John Patrick Stewart, 19, of Dallas, who was riding in the rear passenger seat died in the crash, Wilson said in an email late Monday afternoon.

Onwudinanti, graduated from Baylor in May with a bachelor’s degree in music education, the university said in a statement Tuesday night.

Stewart was a junior instrumental studies major, Baylor said.

The injured survivors were taken to Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Temple.

Megan Taylor Ritzi, 18, of Fort Worth, who was riding in the rear passenger seat was seriously injured and was in very critical condition.

She’s an incoming freshman, Baylor said.

Jacob Travis Hale, 21, of Dallas, who Wilson said was driving suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was in fair condition.

He’s a senior instrumental music major, Baylor said.

The four were on their way to Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La., to perform at The International Clarinet Association meeting, which starts Thursday, Baylor said.

"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.

"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. 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,” he said.

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