Five members of 'Texas' musical killed in Panhandle wreck


Associated Press

Posted on August 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 13 at 7:42 PM

Fatal crash

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AMARILLO  (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 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 about the accident, Miller said.

Tuesday night's performance was canceled.

Their 2001 Ford Taurus sedan was attempting to turn onto U.S. 287 near Dumas, about 40 miles north of Amarillo, when it pulled in front of a southbound 18-wheeler  around 11:30 p.m. and was hit broadside on the passenger's side, Ray said.

The impact sent the load from the big rig's trailer flying; it landed on top of the driver's side of the Taurus.

Alcohol is "just suspected at this time," he said.

Killed in the wreck were Andrew Duncan, 20, of Wichita Falls; Clinton Diaz, 20, of Amarillo; Amanda Starz, 20, of Timonium, Md.; Julian Arredondo, 24, of Haltom City; and Eric Harrison, 21, of Fort Worth, Ray said. All five were pronounced dead at the scene, Ray said.

Thirty-year-old 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 last reported in critical condition.

The driver of the truck, Theron McSay, 70, was reported in stable condition with head laceratons at the Amarillo hospital.

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.