DUMAS, TX (KFDA) - A 19-year-old hit and run suspect is still in Moore County custody, while Dumas mourns the loss of a well-known coach and teacher.
It was a somber mood throughout Dumas, as students and faculty could be seen hugging, shedding tears, and remembering the great person Ryne Erickson was.
Early Sunday morning at at about 3:00 a.m. at East 7th and Melinda Lane, Dumas Police say they responded to a hit pedestrian.
When they arrived, they found 30-year-old Ryne Erickson deceased. The driver had fled and abandoned his vehicle, but officers later located 19-year-old Kaden Lee Thornburg.
He was charged with Accident Involving Personal Injury or Death, and Failing Duty to Give Information or Render Aid.
"It's believed there was alcohol involved," said Detective Sergeant Nick Jordan. "Of course it's still under investigation. At this point we can't say to what degree alcohol was involved, pending results from blood tests and such."
Thornburg just graduated last year from Dumas High school, where Erickson taught History and coached cross country and track.
But rather than focus on the person who allegedly did this, the Dumas community gathered to remember and pay tribute to the man so many knew as "coach Erickson."
"Ryne was entering his ninth year with us as a teacher-coach and you talk about a salt of the earth kind of guy, this has had a huge impact on not only our school district, but our community as well," said DISD Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Phil Guerra.
All day, students had access to counselors. They also set up memorials, many of which were flooded with Dr. Pepper bottles, as we are told by some of his students he was a, "Dr. Pepper freak."
"It's not just the kids that he directly coached or taught, there's just a whole number of kids because he taught at the junior high the last couple of years and he's only been at the high school a few years," said Guerra. "And just the impact he's had on not only our students, but our staff, but there's been a great showing of support for he and his family and that's what we want at the end of the day, just to do what we can to support the Ericksons and let them know they're in our thoughts and our prayers."
And the case is nowhere near over, as many are praying the Erickson family will find justice.
Police tell us there is a chance intoxication manslaughter charges may arise, as the investigation unfolds.
The students have set up a Gofundme account.