SAN MARCOS FIRE: 3 victims were Texas State students, officials say


Highlights

Haley Michele Frizzell, 19, David Ortiz, 21, Dru Estes, 20, and James Miranda, 23, died in the July 20 fire.

Belinda Moats, 21, is still listed as missing.

Three victims of the fire that erupted at an apartment complex in San Marcos last week were Texas State University students, city and university officials said Thursday.

The Travis County medical examiner and Justice of the Peace Maggie H. Moreno identified Thursday four of the five people who died in the fire as Haley Michele Frizzell, 19, David Ortiz, 21, Dru Estes, 20, and James Miranda, 23. University officials confirmed that Estes, Frizzell and Ortiz attended Texas State.

The four victims were residents of the Iconic Village apartment complex and had been reported as missing since the blaze. Belinda Moats, 21, was also reported missing and has not been located yet. Moats also had attended Texas State University in the past, according to friends.

Officials have not yet identified the fifth body found after the fire. This person will be identified through DNA results, authorities said.

“This is obviously heartbreaking news. It is a terrible tragedy,” Texas State University President Denise Trauth said earlier this week. “The entire university community mourns the loss of these lives and we send our deepest condolences to the families and friends. We also send our wishes for a speedy recovery to those injured by the fire and who are still recovering.”

All five bodies were found inside Building 500 of the Iconic Village apartments, which took the heaviest damage from the fire that tore through the complex on July 20 around 4:30 a.m. Some residents awoke to fire already in or near their rooms and jumped from their windows to escape.

READ MORE: Search ends at San Marcos apartments with no other victims found, officials say

“Once the scene has been processed and cleanup efforts begin, the investigation could continue for months,” city spokesman Trey Hatt said.

Investigators spent days sifting through hollowed-out rooms and debris to find the victims buried inside. The last body was recovered Monday, and authorities completed their search Tuesday.

Local and state fire marshals, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, are still investigating what sparked the fire, which displaced roughly 200 people.

During a news conference earlier this week, San Marcos Mayor John Thomaides said city leaders and groups were working to provide support to those affected by the fire.

“As a community, our hearts are broken,” Thomaides said. “We’ve lost so much. We’ve lost the love, energy, optimism and potential of these young souls.”

Estes was a history major at Texas State and was not currently enrolled for the fall semester, but was classified as a sophomore. Frizzell was a sophomore majoring in theater, and Ortiz was an exercise and sports science major in his junior year.

By Thursday afternoon, people had contributed thousands of dollars to the families of Estes and Ortiz through online fundraising accounts.

“The way we remember Dru was that he was always smiling and had such a positive energy,” a GoFundMe page for Estes said. “We never saw him unhappy and just being around him always put a smile on anyone’s face. We are thankful to have spent the little time we did with him.”

RELATED COVERAGE: Ex-residents at San Marcos apartments recall faulty smoke detectors

Ortiz’s Facebook page said he graduated from Pasadena Memorial High School.

Moats, 22, of Big Wells, attended Carrizo Springs High School, southwest of San Antonio. She previously attended Texas State University to study communications but left school to pay off loans with the intent of finishing her degree once they were paid down, said Dominique Rodriguez, a high school friend.

Officials declined to comment on Moats’ history with the school before she is accounted for.



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