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WTAMU student dies after jumping from moving car

Tuesday evening, the Canyon police officers were dispatched to the Legends apartment complex at 47 Valleyview in reference to a possible pedestrian being struck by a car.

Upon arrival, a young man was found lying in the parking lot on the southside of the complex. He was being attended to by several people.

The injured was identified as Treston Johnson, 22 from Lubbock. Johnson was a WTAMU student who lived in the dorms.

A police investigation determined Johnson intentionally jumped out of a moving vehicle and the act resulted in his death. Investigators said Johnson had visible head injuries.

Canyon Chief of Police Dale Davis said there is no evidence he was struck by a passing motorist after intentionally jumping out of the vehicle. Johnson intentionally stepped out of a moving vehicle, causing the injuries to his head.

Johnson was sent to Northwest Texas Hospital where he died upon arrival.

The evening began with the victim and 3 other individuals sitting in a car on the east side of the legends apartment complex. Several of the students were fraternity members or pledges of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity (ATO), which is currently going through rush, where they are trying to bring in new members.

In the course of the rush, the fraternity was playing a game where the objective is to have pledges bring members of the fraternity to the lodge on a given day where the group has additional events planned.

Police say the pledges had settled on November 7, as the day they would take ATO members to the lodge. According to Davis, this is an acceptable activity and not intended to cause harm for anybody.

On the night of the incident, it is believed Johnson thought the snaking or tagging event had begun. The member is allowed to do anything to avoid being taken to the lodge.

Witnesses believe Treston was avoiding being taken by a pledge so he jumped out of the car. According to witnesses, the mood within the car was fun, playing around and not aggressive.

"The West Texas A&M University community is saddened today by the death of Treston Johnson, a senior musical theatre major from Lubbock.

"Treston was a very vibrant and active member of the WTAMU family. He was a campus leader, serving as president of the Residential Hall Association and active in Student Government and ATO, and a talented thespian who had performed in several University theatre productions.

"His untimely death is a great loss to the University, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time," WTAMU said in a statement.

"Treston Johnson, a senior musical theatre and dance major, was tragically killed in an accident on Tuesday, November 6th. Treston was a bright, positive force in the department, performing in many productions and dance concerts. He was also heavily involved in student activities, residential living and student government, and his loss impacts many WT students, faculty, and staff across campus.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to his family for their terrible loss. We also share in celebrating the incredible impact he had on so many people.

"The department will host several events to pay tribute to Treston, including during our Falling Into Dance concert on Nov. 29 - Dec. 2. More details will follow.

"In the meantime, the RHA organization is hosting a candle light vigil for Treston this Friday, November 9th from 6:30-8:30 pm in between the Fine Arts Complex and Classroom Center buildings, all are welcome," the Department of Art, Theatre and Dance said.

The Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity released a statement:

"Alpha Tau Omega mourns the tragic loss of Treston Johnson. Treston was a great brother who had been a member of ATO for three years. We join the campus community in its tribute to Treston.

"Contrary to some media reports, Treston was not taking part in a fraternity activity at the time of his accident. In fact, no fraternity event was scheduled that evening or was being held.

"ATOs are supporting Treston’s family in this difficult time and are taking part in efforts to raise funds to assist the family. His chapter mates are also grieving their loss. ATO asks that you respect their privacy at this time."

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