AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — Alcohol is suspected as a factor in the deaths of five members of a popular summer musical production who were killed in an auto accident in the Texas Panhandle, an official said Tuesday.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Christopher Ray said members of the cast of “Texas” — a musical performed at every year at the Palo Duro Canyon State Park south of Amarillo — were returning from an end-of-the-year party Monday night when the accident occurred.
Four of the dead were dancers while the fifth worked in the box office, according to Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation Executive Director Kris Miller. Members of the production spent the night at the foundation’s offices in Canyon, comforting each other and awaiting any further details on accident, Miller said.
Tuesday night’s performance has been cancelled.
Their vehicle was attempting to turn onto U.S. 287 near Dumas (DOO’-mus), about 40 miles north of Amarillo, when it pulled in front of a southbound 18-wheeler and was hit broadside on the passenger’s side, Ray said.
Alcohol is “just suspected at this time,” he said.
Killed in the wreck were Andrew Duncan of Wichita Falls; Clinton Diaz of Amarillo; Amanda Starz of Timonium, Md.; Julian Arredondo of Haltom; and Eric Harrison of Fort Worth, Ray said. All five were pronounced dead at the scene, Ray said. Their ages were not immediately available.
Timothy Johnson of Portland, Ore., who was directly behind Diaz, the car’s driver, was transported to Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo, where he was in surgery, Miller said.
The Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation produces the musical, which draws up to 65,000 spectators each summer. The last performance of the summer was scheduled for Saturday.