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Singer Laura Botkin Dies in a West Texas Car Crash

A 27-year-old singer from Houston died in a wrong way crash late Sunday in West Texas.

Laura Beth Botkin, 27, was returning from a trip to the Grand Canyon and was in the backseat of a car that crashed head-on into a pickup going the wrong way.  She was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the 2009 Honda, investigators said.

The driver of the car, Jonathan James Runnels, and the pickup driver, identified as Jose Marmolejo Jr., were both critically injured.

Police are investigating whether alcohol may have been a cause of the accident. Marmolejo had an active warrant out for a previous DWI.

Botkin received a Masters of Music and Vocal Performance in May 2008 from Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. The young soprano was a choir member at Christ Church Cathedral and was voice coach at HITS Theater in The Heights.

“To say she lived life to the fullest is an understatement,” Internationally renowned mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer wrote in a column in The Huffington Post. “I remember her singing in my living room, wanting to show some of her recital choices. She could have kept going all night. She had that love of singing and of making music that was contagious and she was also a committed actress. She lit up every room.

“Laura chose to stay in the Houston area after school and was able to sing in area musical theater as well as operatic performances and concerts,” Mentzer wrote. “Our community is reeling.”

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at the church at 1117 Texas Ave.