North Texas

Hundreds Mourn Softball Players Killed in Crash

Company releases statement as hundreds mourn softball players

More than 500 people turned out Sunday night for a candle light vigil on the North Central Texas College campus to remember four young women from the college who were killed in a bus accident Friday night.

Katelynn Woodlee, 18, Meagan Richardson, 19, Jaiden Pelton, 20, and Brooke Deckard, 20, were members of the softball team and all grew up in North Texas towns.

Investigators said a big rig that slammed into their bus never slowed down. The wreck happened Friday night on Interstate 35 in Oklahoma as their team was returning to campus from a scrimmage.

At the vigil, there were prayers for those who died and the survivors of the accident.

“It was just so traumatizing,” said teammate Kaylea Armstrong. “Because that's, like, something I've never seen before. Something that none of us have ever seen before.”

The thought that her four teammates were killed seemed more like a nightmare than reality.  

“We all saw them putting that white cover over Jaiden,” said Armstrong. “You're just, like, that's not real.”

While the community pauses to remember, Armstrong says she will never forget.

“All those girls deserve to be remembered,” said Armstrong. “They were amazing people.”

Deckard's home of Blue Ridge was decorated with blue and black ribbons in her memory. She graduated from Blue Ridge High School in 2013 before playing softball for North Central Texas College.

"She's about 5 foot, but really she's about 10 foot as a softball player," Blue Ridge High School softball coach Jeffrey Williams said. "She had the heart of a lion and the heart of a champion."

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol, which is conducting the criminal investigation, said Sunday that the truck driver, Russell Staley, 53, of Saginaw, Texas, told investigators he was distracted.

Staley was driving for Quickway Carriers of Nashville, Tenn.

Late Sunday the company released this statement:

"We want to offer our thoughts and prayers to the families of Meagan, Brooke, Katelynn and Jaiden, and the rest of the North Central Texas College community. We are also praying for a full recovery for the ladies that remain in the hospital. Trusting in God's grace, we hope to one day join the college in properly memorializing these ladies lives, and their legacy. We will continue to fully cooperate with Oklahoma State Patrol, the National Transportation Safety Board, and other authorities in their investigation of this tragedy. We give thanks for the continued improvement of Bailey Buchanan and Rachel Hitt and will continue to pray for their full recovery."
-- William P. Prevost President & CEO 

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