NRH teens killed in Oklahoma highway crash

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by JOBIN PANICKER and CARLA WADE

Bio | Email | Follow: @jobinpnews

WFAA

Posted on June 22, 2013 at 5:37 PM

Updated Sunday, Jun 23 at 9:48 AM

Teens killed

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NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — Two North Richland Hills teenagers were killed and two others were injured near Hydro, Oklahoma Friday evening when their vehicle was struck by the axle of an 18-wheeler on Interstate 40.

Classmates of the victims, who attended Birdville High School, attended a solemn vigil at the campus Saturday night, hugging and praying before lighting candles and sending white balloons floating into the sky.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said a big rig was traveling eastbound on the highway about 60 miles west of Oklahoma City just before 7 p.m. Friday when an axle separated from the trailer.

The massive part traveled across the median, smashing into the windshield of a westbound 1997 Jeep Wrangler being driven by 18-year-old Colby Wade of North Richland Hills.

The Jeep went out of control, crashing into a cable barrier. The impact left two passengers trapped in the wreckage for 90 minutes: Abigail Key, 15, and Chance Clifton, 17. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

Colby Wade was taken to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City with head injuries. He was reported in critical condition.

Another passenger in the Jeep, 17-year-old Caleb Wade, escaped with minor injuries.

The driver of the truck, identified as 32-year-old Nathan Putman of Greenfield, Oklahoma, was not injured.

Back in Texas, the pain was evident at Birdville High School, where fellow students mourned the deaths of their young friends and educators.

"I's just not real," said football coach and family friend Eric Northey. "It's just words and thoughts, but it won't sink in."

Collin Bassinger was Chance Clifton's best friend. "He was the happiest guy," Bassinger said. "If I was ever down or just not energized, he'd come in and put a smile on my face. He did that with anyone else. It's gooing to be tough to find another guy like that."

Friends said the teens had traveled to Oklahoma for a charity event.

"Right now this is probably the toughest it's hit me," said student Ty Engelhardt.

Chance Clifton was going to be a senior. He was a well-liked football star with crazy dance moves who played corner and wore No. 1.

"We'll always have him in our heart while we're playing football," teammate Quan Walker said. "We'll be playing every game for him."

Northey saw Chance every day since the second grade. He feels the pain along with Birdville students.

"Devastated to think they're not going to see Chance again," he said.

Abigail Key was going to be a junior this fall Friends described her having a big heart and a bigger smile.

"Now she's not here, it's going to all be different," said classmate Poem Turner. "It changes everything."

Students tied pink ribbons to trees and fence posts at the school to honor Abigail; white ribbons for Chance.

A vigil was planned for Saturday night.

Birdville ISD issued this statement after learning about the students' deaths:

Birdville ISD and the Birdville High School community are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of two of our students in the accident Friday evening in Oklahoma. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families, and to the families of the two BHS students who were also injured in the accident.

E-mail jpanicker@wfaa.com and cwade@wfaa.com

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