Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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November 5, 2011

Tragedy stirs memories of Navarro accident

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CORSICANA - Another tragic loss of life in a college bus accident has stirred memories of a local tragedy.

Anabel Reid was one of a dozen Abilene Christian University students who were traveling to do mission work Friday at a children's home when their school-owned bus veered off a Texas highway and overturned, killing the 19-year-old, ejecting several of her fellow passengers and critically injuring four others, officials said.

Reid, a student from Petersburg, was pronounced dead at the scene, and everyone else who was on the bus was taken to one of four area hospitals. Four of the injured were in critical condition, Rampy said. Reid was among 23 ACU agricultural and environmental science majors who made the annual trip to the Medina Children's Home last year, where she helped clear land, mow the yard and move in a new family, according to a 2010 story posted on the school website.

The school-owned bus was carrying 12 agricultural studies students, three faculty members and a faculty member's wife from Abilene to Medina, where they were going to spend the weekend, school spokesman Grant Rampy said.

"These were students from our agriculture department, heading to an annual service project to help a children's home in town," he told The Associated Press.

The driver, 34-year-old faculty member Michael Nicodemus, lost control as the bus was entering a bend on U.S. 83 near the town of Ballinger, about 50 miles southwest of Abilene, the Texas Department of Public Safety said. The vehicle hit a concrete culvert and did a complete roll, ejecting several passengers, the DPS said. It ended up a shredded, metal wreck.

Seven years ago, Feb. 9, 2004, the Navarro College community was facing a similar task — dealing with the tragic loss of life of two student athletes in a traffic accident.

Jason Trier and Pa Sarr were both killed when an 18-wheeler collided with a college van carrying seven players, student coach Bilal Batley, and head basketball coach Lewis Orr.

The five other players were injured, two seriously enough to be air lifted to Dallas area hospitals from Paris, where the accident occurred following a basketball game against the Paris Dragons.

Navarro College District President Dr. Ricahrd Sanchez was one of several college administrators that made the long, early morning drive to Paris following the tragedy. Additional personnel were sent to Dallas to be with the two critically injured players who were taken there.

On Saturday, Sanchez shared his thoughts on how tragedies like those that hit Abilene Christian and Navarro can affect a campus.

“It is the worst experience anyone can imagine,” Sanchez said. “It is something that you hope never happens.”

Sanchez said the search for “answers” following a tragedy such as Friday’s can be painful for families and students alike.

“All you can do is comfort them the best you possibly can, and move forward the best you can.”

Sanchez said going through a tragedy such as Navarro’s 2004 bus crash can change a campus and its students.

“We become more aware of the safety of our players ... it changed our mentality of how we should be transporting our players,” he said, noting the college stopped using multi-passenger vans and purchased busses for athlete transportation.

“It also reminded us how careful we have to be and how vigilent we must be when we have players and coaches on the road,” he said.

Sanchez said the Abilene Christian University campus and community now needs to come together to begin the healing process.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Bob Belcher may be contacted via email at belcher@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com

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