The Main Mall at the base of the University of Texas Tower is usually a quiet space during weeknights, with handfuls of students lounging on the steps or milling about. But on Wednesday evening, hundreds of students packed the esplanade to memorialize 21-year-old Nancy-Jane David with a candlelight service that started as the sun began to set.
Students who knew David mourned her death this week after she was involved in a crash Monday evening while riding her moped near Mueller. David, a UT junior, was working toward becoming an occupational therapist and, according to people who knew her, was a generous friend.
“We’ve all been shaken to our core,” said her friend Caroline Phillips, also a UT student.
The crash happened on Manor Road, about half a mile south of 51st Street. Police got the 911 call at 7:19 p.m.
At the crash scene, Austin police Sgt. Lawrence Davis said it’s possible David may have had trouble with her moped shortly before the crash. Police determined that David swerved into oncoming traffic just before she was hit by someone driving a small school bus in the oncoming lane.
The bus is a personally-owned vehicle and is not affiliated with any school or organization, police said. The driver stopped after the crash.
The crash is still under investigation, and anyone with additional information should call Austin police’s vehicular homicide unit at 512-974-6935, police said.
David’s memorial on Wednesday was organized by the UT sorority Chi Omega, of which David was a member.
Friends said faith was important to David, a Christian who attended Bible study on a weekly basis. Phillips said David had the Bible verse Proverbs 16:9 tattooed on her right foot: “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
At the memorial, David’s roommate of three years, Abby Harkins, read aloud a letter that David had written to her when Harkins was going through a hard time.
“You’re strong, and you will get through this,” David wrote to Harkins.
Harkins recalled, laughing through her tears, that David was often surprised to find people she barely knew talking to her about their problems.
“She had a gently welcoming way about her that made you want to open up to her,” Harkins said.
David attended a summer camp called Heart O’ the Hills Camp for Girls in Central Texas every year since she was 6 years old. She worked as a camp counselor every summer since starting college, said the camp’s director, Jane Ragsdale.
“She was easy to get along with. … She was always kind and going the extra mile for people in a very understated way,” Ragsdale said. “She was noticed, but it wasn’t because she was drawing attention to herself.”
Ragsdale said she woke up to the news of David’s death when she saw a text message from a friend on her phone Tuesday morning.
“I’m having a really hard time dealing with it,” Ragsdale said. “And I know I’m not the only one.”