WT Student Dies After Jumping Out of Moving Vehicle

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Correction – Canyon Police gave the wrong apartment name. It has been corrected.

On November 6, 2018, at approximately 8:30 p.m. Canyon Police Department dispatched to Campus Evolution Villages at 47 Valleyview in reference to a possible pedestrian being struck by a car.

Upon arrival, police said a man was found lying in the parking lot on the south side of the complex,p and was being attended to by several people.

The man was identified as Treston Johnson, 22, of Lubbock. He was a West Texas A&M University 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. 

Police said he had visible head injuries.

Canyon Chief of Police Dale Davis said there was no evidence he was struck by a vehicle. Police said he jumped from the car, and this caused the fatal injury to his head.

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

An autopsy was ordered for today.

Davis said the evening began with the victim and three other individuals sitting in a car on the east side of the legends apartment complex.

The group was later met by another group of college students.

Davis said several of the students were fraternity members or pledges of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity (ATO).

Davis said 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 said 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, police believe Johnson thought the snaking or tagging event had begun.

Davis said the member is allowed to do anything to avoid being taken to the lodge.

Davis said witnesses believe Johnson was avoiding being taken by a pledge so he jumped out of the car.

According to witnesses, police said the mood within the car was fun, playing around and not aggressive. 

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.

Canyon Police continue to investigate. 

The case will be forwarded to the Randall County District Attorney’s office for review. 

Johnson was a senior Musical Theatre Major. In a statement, WT said Johnson was a talented thespian who had performed in several university theatre productions. It goes on to say his untimely death is a great loss to the university. 

Tomorrow night the Residence Hall Association will host a candlelight vigil on campus from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. 

Canyon Police Department’s full statement:

On November 6, 2018 at approx.. 8:30 p.m. , Canyon Police Department were dispatched to the Legends Apartment complex,  located at 47 Valleyview, in reference to a possible pedestrian being struck by an automobile.   Upon their arrival a male subject was found lying in the parking-lot on the south side of the complex.  He was being attended to by several people.  The injured was identified as Treston L. Johnson age 22 from Lubbock, Texas.  He was a WT A&M student living in a dorm on campus.   Police investigation determined that the Mr. Johnson had intentionally jumped out of a moving automobile.  This act resulted in fatal injuries to Treston Johnson.  There were visible head injuries.  There is no evidence to believe he was forced, or pushed from the vehicle.   There was no evidence he was struck by a passing motorist after intentionally jumping from the moving vehicle.  He merely stepped from a moving car, hitting his head causing a significant injury.   The injured was transported to NWTH where he died upon arrival.  An autopsy was ordered which will take place in Lubbock, Texas on Thursday morning. 

The evening began with the victim and 3 other individuals setting in a car on the east side of the Legends apartment complex.  The group was met by another automobile of college kids.  Several of the students were fraternity members,  or pledges,  of the Alpha Tau Omega  (ATO) fraternity.    The fraternity is going through period to bring in new pledges, which is called “Rushing”. Typically, recruitment takes place at the beginning of the fall semester. … Rushing a fraternity includes participation participating in informal game like events. These informal game like events have a purpose  to encourage comradery within the fraternity.   The fraternity had an activity, or game scheduled to commence on November 7, 2018.  The objective of the game was to have pledges bring active members to the fraternity to the lodge on a given day, where the group have additional events planned.   This planned event is not intended for anyone to be harmed in any way.  This event sole purpose was to form positive relations between the pledges and members.  On the night of the unfortunate incident, It is believed that Treston thought that the  planned event had begun and he was allowed to avoid being taken to the lodge.   Treston would have been  allowed to do anything to avoid being taken by the pledge.   Leading up to Johnson jumping from the moving car, all involved, including the victim,  were laughing and being non-aggressive.

Police will be forwarding their finding to the Randall County District Attorney’s office for review. 

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