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HomeNewsboxA Stirring Victory for a Texas High School. Then the Unthinkable.

A Stirring Victory for a Texas High School. Then the Unthinkable.

Ms. Garlock’s daughter, Lauren, a senior cheerleader, was safe. She had ridden with her father. Her two sons, Steven, a senior football player and Lauren’s twin, and Ryan, a freshman player, were driven 45 minutes by coaches from the restaurant to Big Spring. Their mother and the injured cheerleaders had been taken there initially, to Scenic Mountain Medical Center.

The lobby was filled with parents and relatives and concerned fans, many still wearing red Iraan football T-shirts. Outside, in the chilly drizzle, two cheerleaders who had not been on the bus cried on the shoulders of their mothers. School officials hugged and wept as they spoke of Ms. Pope, whose death had been confirmed.

“You feel crushed, like an elephant is sitting on your chest and you can’t breathe, you can’t think,” said Tracey Myers, 51, Iraan High’s cross-country coach.

Ms. Pope and Ms. Garlock, whose maiden name was Castaneda, had grown up in a large family of seven girls and three boys, according to a nephew. The sisters had attended Iraan High, and although Ms. Pope’s two children were now adults, she remained involved with the school. As president of the booster club, she brought food to cross-country meets and made sure there was enough chili at the concession stand for football games. She also designed T-shirts for each round of the playoffs.

As she left the stadium, Ms. Pope had already begun to line up orders for T-shirts for the state semifinals.

“She was the last person I hugged,” said Tammy Kirchhoff, 51, Iraan High’s track coach and the wife of the football coach. “She was going to send those T-shirt orders out Monday morning. She loved the Braves.”

The most seriously injured were transferred late Friday to University Medical Center in Lubbock, Tex. Kamie Klassen said her daughter, Kiara, 15, a cheerleader who had finished 20th at the recent cross-country state championships, had sustained a fractured skull, a fractured cheekbone and bruised lungs. But, she added, “She’ll be O.K.”

And then Ms. Klassen expressed a sentiment that would be repeated by many as she left Scenic Mountain Medical Center. There was something familiar and reassuring to be found in continuing the football season. “We’re still a team and we’ll persevere,” she said.

Halee DeGraffenreid, 17, had been one of the more fortunate cheerleaders. She stood in the lobby of the medical center with a gash across her nose and her arm in a sling. She had needed stitches in her elbow but otherwise seemed O.K., her mother said.

Halee had been listening to music and trying to sleep on the bus when she felt a sudden braking and hurtled forward. “I heard a lot of crying and screaming,” she said. “Everyone was on top of each other. It was real scary.”

Suddenly, Halee felt queasy. She sat down in a wheelchair and doctors took her to an examining room before releasing her half an hour later, according to Mr. Baum, the principal.

Sometime after midnight, highlights from the Iraan-Munday game appeared on television in the hospital lobby. The Iraan fans turned their eyes to the screen but watched with blank stares. At about 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, the Pope and Garlock families left a small room off the lobby. Relatives hugged them and they cried without words.

Late Saturday morning, the football players met at Iraan High School. Clayton Kent, the quarterback, said his sister Katie had two broken vertebrae in her lower back and a sore neck but was expected to be O.K. They had spoken briefly on the phone.

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