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Vigil held on Fountain Mall for victims

Nov. 19, 1999

By ROB SCHICKLER

Reporter

Members of the Baylor community reacted with shock and sadness to Thursday's collapse of the bonfire structure at Texas A&M University that left at least 11 students dead and more than 25 injured.

'Coming off the fact that we just built our bonfire, this really hits close to home,' said Will Shurley, a Monroe, La., freshman.

A prayer service took place Thursday night on Fountain Mall to coincide with a memorial service in College Station.

Approximately 50 people attended the student-initiated event and offered prayers for victims and survivors.

Sandra Kim, a Galveston junior, has a friend at A&M who e-mailed her updates Thursday on what was happening.

'He said he had a good friend who was on top of the structure when it collapsed.

'His friend was okay, but a lot of people were not. There were reporters and students everywhere. He said rescuers brought in sound and motion-detection equipment to search for people who were trapped in the rubble,' Kim said. 'You never expect something like this to happen.'

Mike Conrady, an Anthony, Kan., senior, like many other students interviewed, was left with unanswered questions.

'Certainly all of our hearts go out to the people who were affected. Part of me just wants to know why [this happened],' Conrady said.

Kirsten Escobar, assistant director of the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, graduated from A&M in 1991.

'The bonfire was a very large part of my four years there. It's such a big tradition at A&M...but it will be interesting to see if there even is a bonfire anymore,' she said.

'I have two cousins who go to A&M right now, and they're okay, but it is a very terrifying thing. It's so disillusioning. These young people had their whole lives in front of them. I don't know any word to describe it other than horrific.'

After hearing of the accident Thursday morning, members of Baylor's student government immediately tried to do what they could to help out.

'I've talked to one of [A&M's] student vice presidents and...told him to let us know if there was anything we could do. Obviously they're going through a very hard time,' said Baylor Student Body President Jon Rolph, a Wichita, Kan., junior.

Representatives of Student Congress met Thursday afternoon to draft a bill to show Baylor's support for the students and faculty at A&M.

'The bill recognizes the common bonds and experiences we all share as college students, regardless of which school we go to,' said Student Congress member Grant Walsh, a Dallas senior.

'We're letting them know that the Baylor student body is offering its prayers and sympathy to all the members of the Texas A&M family.'

Student Congress member Reagan Butts, a Midland junior, was part of a group of four representatives that traveled to College Station to present a copy of the bill at a memorial service.

'The student governments of Baylor and A&M have developed a close connection recently with the drowsy driving awareness campaign. This really hit close to home for us, and it's a real shock for those who know people who go to A&M,' Butts said.

'It just seems like we've had so many tragedies this year,' he said.