Before William Mayo would commit to an interview about the tragic death of his friends Katherine “Katie” Findley and Meagan Jones, he wanted to know exactly what would be asked of him because certain questions, he said, would be too sensitive to answer just four days after the young women were buried.
“The media has really done a lot of exploiting of the situation,” Mayo says.
“This is really hard to talk about.”
Mayo says he doesn’t want the memory of his friends to become lost in the shuffle of the accident investigation.
“I want them to be remembered as two girls who always had smiles on their faces no matter what was going on,” Mayo says.
The girls, both 18, died within hours of a 3:15 a.m. crash on Feb. 17, when their Jeep Cherokee turned in front of a speeding police car on Skillman responding to a call without its emergency lights or siren on.
Mayo, 19, was one of the hundreds of friends and family members who attended the memorial services and expressed their grief for the two 1995 graduates of Lake Highlands High School. He says classmates of the girls flew in from throughout the country to attend the services.
“These are the first people in our class that we have lost,” Mayo says.
“I understand that they are in a better place, but it’s hard to address that concept because they’re not with us.”
The accident site at the intersection of Fair Oaks and Skillman was quickly turned into a memorial to the two girls, adorned with flowers, stuffed animals and sympathy notes.
The girls, who grew up living a block apart, were best friends and cheerleaders at Lake Highlands High School. In January, Katherine – known to her close friends as “Katie” – had transferred to Austin Community College, the same school Meagan attended.
The girls were active in extra-curricular activities while at Lake Highlands High and were well-liked by their peers and teachers, Principal Ron Matthews says.
“Katie and Meagan were both very popular, energetic girls,” Matthews says.
Like other friends and family members, former classmate Shannon Zweiban and her mother, Sue, are concerned that the accident could have been avoided if Dallas police Senior Cpl. Tommy Ames had turned on his squad car’s emergency lights and siren.
“This has ripped me apart. This is a territory that my kids drive everyday,” Sue Zweiban says.
“They (the police) owe us an explanation.”
Police have said Findley failed to yield the right of way to the squad car, which was speeding south on Skillman Street after receiving a call to assist a fellow officer. The girls, traveling north, were turning off Skillman onto Fair Oaks Crossing.
A police spokesman says Ames has been placed on administrative leave and the department is investigating the accident.
Mayo says the results of the police investigation will help bring about a sense of closure to the tragedy.
“But I think time will help us heal more than anything,” Mayo says.