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Baylor Community Mourns Loss of Students

WACO, TX (KXXV) - The Baylor community mourns the loss of a student and a recent graduate who died in a crash on Tuesday morning. Two other Baylor students are also in the hospital recovering.

19-year-old John Stewart of Dallas and 21-year-old Laura Onwudinanti of Grand Prairie died on Highway 7, three miles west of Kosse, in Falls County.

The Department of Public Safety said the vehicle drifted off the road. The driver overcorrected, went off the other side of the road and hit a tree on the passenger side.

Stewart was a junior instrumental studies major from Dallas. Onwudinanti just earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from Baylor in May 2014.

One of Onwudinanti’s friends, Jennifer Lane, said she remembers Onwudinanti as someone filled with joy and passion for music.

According to Lane, Onwudinanti, who played the clarinet, had something that set her apart from other performers. She said she would put a little dance on her step.

Lane said she will not be soon forgotten.

“Everyone remembers meeting Laura for the first time because she is incredibly vibrant and she laughs at almost everything,” Lane said. “She found joy in every situation. She had the most amazingly bright smile.”

Other friends said Stewart was a very nice man and had a bright future ahead of him. Most of them are in disbelief and trying to cope with this tragedy. They said they are thankful for all the prayers and thoughts that have come their way.

Two other Baylor students survived and are still at Baylor Scott & White in Temple.

The driver, 18-year-old Jacob Hale, is in fair condition, while a passenger, 21-year-old Megan Ritzi, is in critical condition.

Baylor University sent a written statement about this tragic accident.

“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.”
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