Ron Garcia said it is Vanessa Rangel's smile he remembers most about his former student who died Thursday, Sept. 2, in a devastating crash on US Highway 67.
"She was the sweetest kid you could ever meet," said Garcia, who is the assistant principal at Cleburne High School, where Rangel was a 2007 graduate. "We are all shocked and devastated."
Rangel was killed about 7:30 a.m. as she traveled from her home in Cleburne to attend class at Tarleton State University where she was a junior nursing major. Rangel just began her first semester at Tarleton after transferring from Hill College.
According to Sgt. Bob Shields with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Rangel was traveling west on Hwy. 67 when she lost control of her yellow Chevrolet Cobalt and slid into oncoming traffic where she was struck by a semi hauling a load of gravel.
Rangel was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace Shawnee Bass, Shields said.
Shields also said slick road conditions are believed to have been a factor in the accident.
A thunderstorm rolled through Erath County Wednesday night, dumping more than an inch of rain in some parts of the county. A light drizzle lingered in the area until late Thursday morning.
Rangel was a stellar student who received academic honors at Cleburne High School, where she also played soccer and was a member of the cross country team, Garcia said.
Tarleton officials issued a statement Thursday afternoon after learning they had lost one of their own.
"The university community is reeling from the loss of one of our students. Although we've just begun our fall semester, it is always a shock to lose a young, promising life. It's during times like this that the community comes together to show compassion and caring," the statement read. "Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends."
On-campus counseling assistance is available for students at the student counseling center.