Water park tram driver, square dance fan among victims
A Schlitterbahn tram driver, a square dancer and a former assistant to a newspaper publisher were among the victims of a bus crash that claimed 13 lives near Uvalde on Wednesday.
They were members of the First Baptist Church of New Braunfels, on the way home from an annual retreat when a pickup truck veered across the road and hit their bus head-on. Only one passenger from the bus, Rose Mary Harris, 64, survived and was airlifted to San Antonio. The driver of the pickup also remains hospitalized.
Details about some of the deceased began to emerge Thursday as friends and family members learned of the crash.
Murray Barrett, 67, worked as a tram driver at Schlitterbahn water park since 2002, said spokeswoman Winter Prosapio, who said he was widely known as “just the sweetest, sweetest guy.”
“Working here as a tram driver season after season takes a special person because there’s lots of guests, it’s very hot, obviously, you have to have patience with small children who are cranky — and he was wonderful with everyone,” she said.
News of the death of Donna Hawkins, 69, of Schertz, reverberated all the way to California, where Hawkins was involved in the square-dancing community.
“She was the best proponent we had for voicing information on square dancing,” said Pam Kidwell, president of the California Square Dance Council.
After Hawkins’ husband died, she learned to dance the man’s part so she would always have partners, Kidwell said. Hawkins was in charge of activities for the council, including giving out certificates to dancers over age 80 and organizing the annual dancing at the San Diego County Fair. When the square-dancers did community outreach at the fair, she made elaborate vests to fit the theme of each year.
“You could always count on Donna for getting her girls together and getting her vests, whether it was ‘Out of this World’ or ‘Mad Hatter’ or whatever,” Kidwell said. “She’d dive into it with so much enthusiasm.”
Hawkins moved to Texas a couple of years ago to be closer to family.
Another victim, Mildred Rosamond, 87, moved to New Braunfels from the Gulf Coast, where she worked as a receptionist to the publisher for The Baytown Sun.
Janie Halter Gray, the editor and publisher, said she remembered Rosamond from when she herself began working at the paper in the late ’70s.
“She was a really nice lady,” Gray said. “As far as a receptionist goes in that line of work, she was always smiling, friendly, did a good job.”
Sue Wynn Tysdal