Texting and driving blamed for teen's death near Tatum

By Taylor Hemness - bio | email

RUSK COUNTY (KLTV) - Lillian Propes, 16, a junior at Tatum High School, was on State Highway 43 in Rusk County when she got a message from a new friend.

"She was texting and driving to a person, that she had just...recently met, like the night before," said Lani Marquez, Lillian's friend.

DPS says she lost control of her truck, went off the road, and hit a tree. She was thrown from the truck, and died at the scene.

One day later, a group of her friends went to the spot of the accident.

"We were all curious to what happened," Marquez said. "We just wanted to be here, see what happened. Just to remember Lilly, we don't remember her like this, but just wanted to be where she was last, even though it is hard to think this was the last place she was."

There is only a handful of her friends that needed to see this spot. But that wasn't the case Sunday night, only hours after Lillian died.

"Our high school principal, Debbie Maxey, opened the high school yesterday evening, and we had approximately 200 kids assemble here last night, along with faculty and staff," said Tatum ISD Superintendent Dr. Dee Hartt.

And the school involvement didn't stop there. The morning after the accident, the principal read a statement from Lillian's mom over the loud speaker, that included these words:

"The Propes family asked that each of you, the Tatum High School family of students, faculty and staff take this tragedy of their precious daughter's death as a screaming message from those who love you -- 'Don't text while you drive. Don't text others when you know they are driving.'"

Lillian's friends are already putting those words into action.

"The junior class is all going to sign a pledge, and we're all getting wrist bands in memory of Lillian Propes," another friend said.

The school will host a memorial for Lillian Propes Thursday night, March 31, at 7PM. A scholarship fund has also been set up in her name at Citizens National Bank in Tatum.

Click here to read the full statement read to students at Tatum High School.

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