The first day of school is usually a mix of excitement, anticipation and a hint of apprehension. No less so at Texas Tech on day one of the Fall 2014 semester, although mourning was tossed into the equation. House parties and car wrecks are responsible for the deaths 18-year-old's Dalton Debrick, Tucker Arnold and 20-year-old Morgan Lee, all incoming students at Tech.
"We're all young once, and we've all done those kind of things, but something needs to be done for these college children," Lubbock resident Susanne Manley pleaded.
Just before 9 a.m. Sunday, Lubbock Police Department responded to a dead body call. Coincidentally, it was at the same residence they advised a noise violation two hours before, 3613 36th Street. The body of deceased Debrick of Irving, Texas was found. Debrick was an incoming freshman Red Raider.
Manley, a neighbor, said she saw people in the front yards of the neighborhoods just before midnight, passing around what seemed to be a bottle of whiskey. Concerned the kids would drive, Manley called police to check out the off-campus fraternity party as a safety precaution.
"Officers explained to them we had a call referencing a loud party, explained to them the noise ordinance and all of that kind of stuff. They were assured that the party was breaking up anyways," LPD Captain Roy Bassett said. "The officers told them that they need to keep it down, went on their way. We had no further calls that night, apparently the party did break up."
"Then the next morning we woke up and there was just cop cars and an ambulance and a medical examiner were out there," Manley added. "Pretty scary stuff, though."
Last Tuesday, Arnold of Houston died in an early morning wreck near 49th Street and Avenue T. He hit a parked car before over-correcting and striking a tree in the front yard of a home. Arnold was rescued by firefighters using the Jaws of Life, but later died at UMC.
"They don't know. They don't understand the consequences of their actions and I think that, definitely, the universities and colleges need to find a way to crack down on it," Manley said.
"Regardless of what the technicalities of the law are, kids know right from wrong and, unfortunately, mistakes are made and poor decisions are made," Bassett said.
On August 13th, Lee of Abilene was involved in another fatal car crash.
"A little before 2 o'clock, we received word of a traffic accident involving one of our patrol units out here at North Clovis and the Loop," Sergeant Robert Hook with the LPD Traffic Investigation Unit explained.
Lubbock police officer Cody Kidd was responding to a non-emergency call when, according to witnesses, the drivers collided after both having green lights. Lee was transported to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, she later died there. Officer Kidd was transported to the hospital with moderate injuries and was released shortly thereafter. He is currently on injury leave and has since secured an attorney.
"Unfortunately, every time college starts back up, there are instances like this," Bassett said.
Texas Tech University administrators said they are extending the offer of grieving services to all Tech family and students in regards to the recent tragedies. Chris Cook with the TTU Office of Communications and Marketing released a statement that reads, in part: "the university is saddened at the loss of students, and our thoughts and prayers are extended to Dalton's family and friends at this time."
Cook also listed services the university goes through:
"Condolence calls to family members, Lowering of TTU flag (picture and flag provided to family), Counseling services for students and student groups impacted, Invitation to family to attend Techsan Memorial, Arrangement sent to the funeral/memorial services on behalf of TTU, Extenuating circumstances if event takes place in Lubbock: staff member may go to hospital to be with family and students and attend the funeral."