Student from San Antonio listed as missing after fire
Daniella Santillan has several fond memories of her friend Dru Estes, but one of her favorites took place in summer 2016, just after they had graduated from Roosevelt High School.
The pair, who had been good friends since middle school, were driving in his Miata with the top down when “Who Knows, Who Cares,” a song by one of their favorite alternative-indie bands, came on the stereo.
“(We were) ... realizing how well our harmonies blended together,” Santillan recalled Monday.
Estes, 20, a San Antonio native who attended Krueger Middle School and Roosevelt High, is among those who died in the massive fire at Iconic Village Apartments in San Marcos on Friday, his family said on social media.
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The names of the five victims have not been officially released; four other people said to be unaccounted for are Haley Frizzell, Belinda Moats, David Ortiz and James Miranda.
“Heaven gained one amazing person,” Estes’ sister said on Facebook Sunday evening, adding that she was thankful for the short time they had together.
A GoFundMe campaign created by a family friend to raise money for funeral arrangements said the Estes family believes “Dru has joined Jesus at this time.”
As word spread Monday, friends and family took to social media to lament the loss of Estes, described as easy-going, friendly and always smiling. Estes loved God, his family and friends, several said.
“He was also just so optimistic all the time,” Santillan said in an interview with the Express-News. “No matter what the situation was, he always found a silver lining in everything.”
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Estes, who just finished his sophomore year at Texas State University, had not yet declared a major, but was considering teaching or music. He also talked about opening a coffee shop or taking a year break from school to travel the world, Santillan said.
Estes had a deep love for music, friends say. He played drums in middle school, high school and college and played guitar at events hosted by a nonprofit religious organization, Kingdom Resources. He also loved to sing.
That’s how Santillan and Estes bonded. The pair met in the sixth grade at the Krueger School of Applied Technologies, a magnet program, and came to realize that they had a lot in common, like their love of the Beatles and indie rock bands, like Young the Giant, Local Natives and Phantogram.
At Roosevelt High, Estes and Santillan attended the Design and Technology Academy, another magnet program. They were active in band and performed together in two musicals, “Young Frankenstein” and “The Little Mermaid.”
Roxanne Sanchez, who was a year younger than Estes, remembers how friendly he was to everyone.
“He was always smiling and laughing,” Sanchez said. “I never once saw Dru not smile.”
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At Texas State, he was part of the Bobcat Marching Band. Michael Holubec, who marched with Estes on the Texas State bassline, said:
“I honestly never really ever seen him in a bad mood or had anything negative to say about anything or anyone. Even if he saw you were down, he was always there to help pick you back up.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity of friendship and the amount of time I got to spend with him.”
Frizzell, a sophomore at Texas State and a 2017 graduate of Central High School in San Angelo, was studying performance and production. Photos on her Facebook page show friends, relatives and family dogs; light moments on the sets of theatrical or film productions; a 2016 trip to New York with her high school choir; and fun times at Bobcat football games and other events in San Marcos.
“Freshman year is OVER!” she proclaimed in a post in May. “A bittersweet moment, but I’m so excited for this year!”
In the same post, her father commented, “I heard you made the dean’s list this semester. WOW!!!”
Tom Copeland, a recently retired professor in Texas State’s theater and dance department, had Frizzell and her brother in film classes. He described them as “just outstanding” students. Haley became director of the film club and “would light up a room” with her smile and energy, Copeland said.
“She was an exceptional young lady,” he said. “She was really making a name for herself.”
Sunday Vaught, high school choir director in San Angelo, said in a Facebook post that Frizzell “was an amazing student, a friend to all in the class, and a bright spot in the room each day.”
“She was a star on the stage and so humble as well. She made the new students feel comfortable getting adjusted to CHS,” Vaught wrote.
Moats’ family was in San Marcos on Monday hoping to hear something about Belinda.
Moats, 21, of Big Wells in Dimmit County, was a graduate of Carrizo Springs High School, and according to her uncle, Ruben Nolasco, she was the first in her family to go to college.
She was not presently enrolled in Texas State but was working at a nearby Sonic restaurant.
“She wasn’t in school. She wasn’t able to go back,” Nolasco said, citing financial issues.
“Her family misses her. When kids come up here, you always want them to go their own way, and this happens,” he said.
Ortiz, 21, graduated from Pasadena Memorial High School and was studying at Texas State, according to his Facebook page. His mother, Gina Ortiz, is a teacher at Pasadena Memorial High, where she teaches Spanish.
By Monday, a GoFundMe for Gina Ortiz had already raised over $4,000.
“Gina is in San Marcus [sic] waiting to hear something and she has a lot of unexpected expenses,” wrote Tish Eubanks, education liaison for the City of Pasadena who started the GoFundMe page.
Eubanks, David Ortiz’s former assistant principal, described him as “the kind of kid you never worried about.”
“I knew he was going to go onto college and do great things,” she added.
He worked as a manager at Discount Tire in San Marcos. He moved here from Cove, Arkansas.