Texas schools curb football rivalry to mourn log collapse victims
November 23, 1999
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (CNN) -- Texas A & M University canceled, postponed or revised Thanksgiving week events leading up to Friday's football clash against the University of Texas after 12 people died after a pre-game bonfire framework collapsed last week.
The university postponed for one week Tuesday's "Elephant Walk," a tongue-in-cheek, annual event in which seniors link arms and "wander aimlessly" in a symbolic gesture designed to show the end of their "usefulness" to the school. The bonfire itself was canceled, and a candlelight vigil will be held on the eve of the Thursday night game.
Funerals were held for four of the victims Monday, and members of the university's cadet corps interrupted their morning run around campus to pay their respects at the flower-shrouded fence surrounding the accident site. One of the victims was a member of their D-Company Cadets.
A task force is expected to be named by the end of the week to conduct an outside investigation of the accident.
Investigators, meanwhile, moved the bonfire stack's center pole indoors Monday to protect it from rain. Additional photographs were taken of the site and a tent was erected over it, also out of concern over inclement weather.
The center pole has been the focus of the investigation into the Thursday accident. Soil samples also been taken for analysis to determine if the ground there was a suitable foundation for the 40-foot high structure. But "There is no indication that soil failure was an element of the failure of this," said Philip Buchanan, of Soil Mechanics Inc.
In Austin, meanwhile, cross-state rival Texas held a memorial in honor of the dead at A&M on Monday. Forty busloads of Aggies made the 105-mile trip to Austin to join thousands of UT students for the memorial.
"To the Texas A&M community, you are not alone during your time of sorrow," Donald Evans, chairman of the UT system's Board of Regents, said. "The eyes of Texas are upon you. Our hearts are with you, not as competitors or colleagues, but as parents, sons, daughters, friends and neighbors."
Texas A&M prepares for more funerals for bonfire victims
Texas A&M University
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