Self-disciplined and competitive, Jackson Jean Golf Course was all about business. Despite having a big heart to help others, he can be tough on himself if he doesn’t shoot in the 60’s.
Rick Long, a family pastor at Grace Church in Arvada, Colorado, said Jean had finished a tournament with his University of Southwest teammates in Texas when he called his father, Greg Jean, to talk about what he thought was frustrating.
“And he just said, ‘Jackson, you’re amazing. You’re not always going to score the way you want to. You’re going to be great.’ This was their last conversation, “Long said.
About an hour later, the college junior returned to New Mexico in a van with his teammates. Jean, his coach and five teammates were killed in a head-on collision with a pickup truck van on a two-lane farm road on Tuesday evening.
Authorities announced Thursday that the truck plunged into their lane after a tire exploded. Henrik Siemens, 38, of Seminole County, Texas, an unnamed 13-year-old behind the wheel, and his passenger also died in the blaze.
Jackson Jean was close to his parents and two younger sisters, coaching children playing in a special needs football league organized by his family and was well liked by his colleagues at the Red Robin in suburban Denver where he worked as a waiter at home. From school, Long said in an interview Thursday.
Jean moved to the University of the Southwest after spending a year in a military school in New Mexico, seeing it as an opportunity to play golf and gain a Christian education, he said.
Jean loved the smell of golf courses and the feeling of teasing and clubbing, and enjoyed being able to relax and play at the church’s annual golf tournament to raise money for indigenous peoples in the Amazon of Peru, Long said.
“He said it’s a place where he can play his game and play it well and not feel the pressure to perform because he’s doing it for a big mission, a big reason,” he said.
Most of the students killed in the crash got their first taste of life at a private Christian university where the number of admissions on campus is about 300.
They included Lacey Stone from Nokona, Texas, Travis Garcia from Placenton, Texas, Mauricio Sanchez from Mexico and Tiago Susa from Portugal. The school and the authorities did not leave their town for Sanchez and Susa.
Also killed were Carista Raines, a junior from Fort Stockton, Texas, and Tyler James, a golf coach from Hobbes, New Mexico.
Authorities identified the two injured students as Dayton Price of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada; And Hayden Underhill, Amherstview, Ontario, Canada.
Garcia was voted the most valuable player at Placenton High School last year, when he and his fellow Eagles made their first appearance at the Texas State Championships. He was remembered by those who worked with him at a golf club near Pleasanton as an extraordinary kid who made great strides in just a few years after picking a club for the first time.
Miles Dumont, manager of golf operations at River Bend Golf Club. Thursday said Garcia has played a big role in the success of his high school team. He added that the teenager did not mind spending hours outside practicing his craft.
“He really fell in love with the game, and we were all really excited to see where his golf career was taking him,” Dumont said. “We are really proud of him. We are really happy to have him somewhere to play. The sky was the limit for him. “
Renata Afonso, head of Escola Secundária de Loulé, a high school on Portugal’s south coast, said Sousa also had a “passion for golf.”
“He was a very dedicated student, very involved for social reasons,” he said. “Any school would be happy to have him as a student.”
Before moving to New Mexico, Sanchez played with a club de golf Pulgas Pandas in Aguacalientes, a prosperous city in north-central Mexico.
Stone graduated from Nokona High School in 2021, where he played golf, volleyball and softball. His mother Chelsea Stone described him as a ray of sunshine.
With so many students away for the spring break, the university was planning a rally next week, when counselors were ready to help students earlier. Prayers and sympathies continue to flood social media sites as universities and friends continue their efforts to raise funds to help the families of the victims.
On Thursday, about 150 people came out to pay their respects to Jean at Texas Roadhouse, a Hobbes restaurant where he worked and met his five-month-old girlfriend.
“She was my heart,” said Maddie Russell, 20, of Hobbes.
Also at the memorial was Russell’s aunt, who wrote his niece’s phone number on a piece of paper for Jean when Russell was too embarrassed to do so. She texted him that day, and it soon became a fixture at the family dinner table.
Many who knew Jean wore the Denver Broncos jersey, including a colleague who began their friendship with a football rivalry; He is a cowboy fan.
“I was from Colorado, and I wasn’t a fan of the Bronco, and she was,” said waitress Kylen Valdez, 31. “He came and told us that when Russell Wilson is on the team, they’re going to win and they’re going to win the Super Bowl. And that’s exactly how everyone knows Jackson – sports, not just golf.”
The mourners released about 100 blue and orange balloons into the cold, whipping air of eastern New Mexico, and they soon disappeared into the horizon.
Slavin reports from Denver. Montoya reports from Brian Albuquerque. Anita Snow, an Associated Press writer in Phoenix, and Cedar Atanasio of Hobbes, New Mexico, contributed to this report.