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Texas Opera Singer Killed in Lubbock in Wrong-Way Car Crash


Posted on Sep 26, 2012

A 27-year-old opera singer from Houston, Laura Beth Botkin, was killed in a wrong-way crash in west Texas on August 12, 2012.

Botkin was returning from a trip to the Grand Canyon with Jonathan James Runnels, 26, of Pasadena, when the crash occurred. Runnels was driving and Botkin was in the back seat. 

The incident occurred at approximately 7:30 p.m. near the intersection of Loop 289 and East Slaton Highway in Lubbock. A Chevy pickup truck driven by Jose Marmolejo Jr., 35, of Slaton, was heading west in the eastbound lane. Both drivers swerved into the median, where the pickup collided head on with the Honda Runnels was driving. Botkin, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from the car.

According to a Lubbock news report, Marmolejo was flown to University Medical Center and Botkin and Runnels were transported there by ambulance. Botkin died in the hospital later that night. Runnels, who was critically injured, was released from the hospital later in the week. Marmolejo’s condition was still listed as critical several days after the crash.

Details about why Marmolejo was driving on the wrong side of the road were not released, but there was speculation that alcohol may have been a factor. There was an active warrant out for Marmolejo for a previous DWI. 

Botkin earned a master’s degree from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in 2008. She was a voice coach at the HITS Theatre in the Heights.

“To say she lived life to the fullest is an understatement,” internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer wrote in a column in The Huffington Post. “I remember her singing in my living room, wanting to show some of her recital choices. She could have kept going all night. She had that love of singing and of making music that was contagious, and she was also a committed actress. She lit up every room.”

The personal injury attorneys and staff at the Houston law firm of Steve Lee P.C. extend their sympathies to all who have been affected by this tragic accident.

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