A West Independent School District student died Thursday after a wreck on Interstate 35, Superintendent David Truitt announced.

Senior Jacob Bates died of injuries suffered in the wreck late Thursday night. The district canceled all student activities for Friday to focus on supporting grieving students and the Bates family, Truitt wrote in a statement on the district’s Facebook page Thursday night.

“Please keep Jacob’s family in your prayers. Also, please be thinking about the difficulty this news will have on his teammates, friends, classmates, other students, staff, parents and community,” Truitt wrote. “It’s times like these that I feel so blessed to be in West. I know everyone will come together to support each other and most importantly … the kids.”

District staff and counselors, along with the West Ministerial Alliance and Region 12 Education Service Center crisis team, were at West High School when students arrived Friday morning to learn about the news. The district offered grief counseling at West Middle School and West High School until 5 p.m. Friday. Counselors will also be available Monday, Truitt wrote in a statement to media Friday morning.

“I believe our kids will want to be together and see the familiar faces of our teachers, counselors, staff and coaches,” he wrote on the district’s Facebook page Thursday.

A West ISD football player, Bates often appeared on the Tribune-Herald’s Central Texas Honor Roll. As the news spread about his death Thursday night on social media, hundreds of comments and prayers of support poured out for the district and family on the district’s Facebook page, and friends and classmates left messages on his personal page. The high school has more than 400 students.

“You’ve been a good friend to me and have always made a good impression on people. I love you like a brother man. I miss you already,” former West High School student Dalton Lucien wrote on Bates’ Facebook page. “Fly high and I’ll never forget the good times and the unforgettable stories we shared together. You were a great athlete who never gave up and never will give up on watching over our proud souls.”

Bates had been in West ISD since kindergarten and was a leader in the classroom, in the gym and on the athletic fields, Truitt wrote to media.

“His classmates truly loved and admired him. We are a close-knit family in West, so this loss will impact many,” Truitt stated. “I know our students and staff will need support during this difficult time.”

A group of students planned an impromptu prayer service in remembrance of Bates for 6:30 p.m. Friday at St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption, 301 S. Harrison St.

Any parent who feels their child needs additional support is asked to call Truitt’s office at 981-2000.

Shelly Conlon has covered K-12 education for the Tribune-Herald since July 2016. Prior to the Tribune-Herald, she was the managing editor for the Waxahachie Daily Light, and an intern for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

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