On Thursday, eight-grader Nikolas Agustin Moralez was working as an office assistant at Bonham Junior High School waiting for the last bell of the school year to ring at 4:10 p.m.
The 14-year-old was telling secretaries about plans to go to Possum Kingdom State Park in Caddo, and someone’s graduation in Copperas Cove during the weekend.
But 20 minutes after that bell, emergency dispatch responders received a report of a head-on collision in the 5000 block of 52nd Street that killed him and an 87-year-old woman, and sent two drivers of the two vehicles to the hospital.
“It hurts. It’s been very quiet here today,” Bonham Junior High Principal James Ramage said. “We here at Bonham consider ourselves family and this hurts our family. We’ve lost one of our loved ones.”
Ramage knew Moralez from his work in the office and said he was polite, well-liked and active with the golf team.
On Thursday afternoon, Ramage said Moralez “was like any kid waiting for the summer to begin.
The accident also killed 87-year-old Wanda Molen Bryant of Midland, and sent Moralez’ mother Alma Paz Zubiate and Sandra Bryant Bell, both of Odessa, to the hospital. Zubiate was listed in critical condition and Bell was not listed as a patient as of Friday afternoon, but family said she was continuing to recuperate from broken bones and leg injuries.
Meanwhile, Bryant’s survivors continued to deal with her death. Larry Bell, of Howard Supply Company, said his wife Sandra Bell’s mother had lost her husband Ralph Bryant in 1996 and she’d been living in Midland at the Polo Park Estates retirement community. According to Ralph Bryant’s obituary, the couple married in San Antonio in 1942 and moved to Odessa in 1969.
Larry Bell said Bryant been retired for about two decades, but had worked for years in a department store cosmetic department. He said that recently, his wife had been Bryant’s primary caregiver.
“My wife looked after her almost every day,” Larry Bell said.
Larry Bell said Sandra had been picking Bryant up from Midland to take Bryant to a graduation celebration for her great-granddaughter Kalie Jordan Bryant, a Permian senior, and Sandra Bell didn’t remember the moments immediately preceding the accident.
Sandra Bell was driving a 2012 Buick Enclave westbound on 52nd Street when, for undetermined reasons, she veered into the eastbound lanes, colliding head-on with Zubiate’s eastbound 2005 Chrysler 300, according the police reports. Bryant died at the scene and Moralez later died at Medical Center Hospital.
Office workers at Bonham went quietly about their filing Friday afternoon. Ramage had an emergency faculty meeting Friday morning and Student Assistant Services Counselor Gabriel Fierro said he met with 18 students by Friday afternoon.
“It is very difficult for them (students). They haven’t had life-experiences as far as coping skills go and that’s why they turn to counselors or to someone who they trust,” Fierro said. “We don’t have all the answers to all their questions. We mainly let them talk and comfort them as much as possible.”
Ramage said counselors will be available at the school for the next two weeks. Larry Bell said the funeral service for Bryant was to be set for 10 a.m. Friday at Frank Wilson funeral home.