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College student from Lubbock dies after jumping out of moving car

CANYON, Texas - Canyon Police on Thursday said a West Texas A&M student from Lubbock lost his life on Tuesday evening after jumping out of a moving car.

Police said Treston Johnson, 22, from Lubbock, was with a group of other students including fraternity members or pledges of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity (ATO) which was recruiting new members.

Police said the fraternity has a game where the objective is to have pledges bring members of the fraternity to the lodge.  The rules of the game allow the member to do anything to avoid being taken to the lodge.  The game was set to begin on November 7, but police think Johnson might have been under the impression that it already started. 

Johnson was in a car with other people in the parking lot of an apartment complex.  Witnesses believe Johnson was trying to avoid being taken by a pledge, so he jumped out of the car.

Police said according to witnesses, the mood within the car was fun, playing around and not aggressive. Police believe he suffered a head injury when he exited the moving car.

He was taken to Northwest Texas Hospital where he died. Friends remember Treston as an incredibly talented dancer, and infectious smile.

"Treston was a beaming light to everyone he met, and there was never a problem that he couldn't fix," said Desiree Soto. "We were so lucky to know Treston and to experience his amazing gifts of storytelling, performing, and friendship."

"He was always smiling, and a bright light to everyone who was able to meet him," said Madelynn Hamel. "He was one of the most talented dancers I have ever known, and I was honored to teach alongside of him."

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.

The Canyon Police Department's official statement mentioned the fraternity. Police said:

News Release:  Canyon Police Department

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. 

(myhighplains.com contributed to this report) 

UPDATED: for the police statement, and the fraternity statement. The story has been updated also to reflect that the fraternity game was scheduled to begin on November 7. 


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