News alert



BELTON — A 17-year-old male was pronounced dead at 3:36 a.m. Sunday after he died in a vehicle that tried to avoid a deer on FM 1123, Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Bryan Washko said Monday.

Joshua Flanagin of Belton was identified Monday by Bell County Justice of the Peace Cliff Coleman as the passenger that died in a one-vehicle crash.

The 2016 Subaru was headed north on FM 1123 just north of Hickerson Road, which is about five miles south of Belton. The driver, Christopher Wayne Abernathy, 20, of Belton, said a deer was in the road and he swerved to the right to keep from hitting it.

Abernathy lost control of the car, it left the road, traveled through an embankment and hit a tree on the right passenger side. Then it caught fire, Washko said.

The driver escaped, but Flanagin was trapped. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Coleman. No autopsy was ordered because no alcohol or drugs were detected, Coleman said.

Abernathy was taken to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Temple, where he was treated for injuries not believed to be life-threatening.

Services for Flanagin are pending with Dossman Funeral Home in Belton.

Flanagin was a Belton High School student, Interim Superintendent Dr. Robin Battershell confirmed Monday.

“The Belton Independent School District was saddened to learn about the tragic deaths of two students from Belton High School that occurred in separate off-campus events over winter break,” Battershell said. “We extend our deepest sympathies to each student’s family and friends, as well as the school community. Additional counseling support will be available this week to assist our students and staff.”

The investigation into the crash is still active, Washko said.

The DPS reminds drivers to obey all speed limits, slow down and adjust speed when approaching a curve in the road. Remember to watch for wild animals that may be in the road after dark, Washko said.