Rising senior Zachary Clark, 21, hydroplaned off the Kansas Turnpike and into a ditch filled with water from flash flooding on his way back to Minnesota on July 10 for his internship with the Catholic Diocese of Winona. Emergency crews closed down the interstate to concentrate on doing everything possible to rescue him with the help of other drivers, according to the Wichita Eagle.
Despite their efforts, Clark was sucked into a whirlpool in a culvert beneath the highway and died at the scene. Fire rescue crews, using boats to search the culvert, found him outside his vehicle.
Clark’s father, Barry Clark, asked for prayers of support for his family, according to the Wichita Eagle.
“I know he’s in heaven because he’s a very, very fine man,” Barry Clark said.
The Kansas City Star reported that the Kansas Turnpike Authority (KTA) is continuing to investigate the accident. A statement from the KTA’s spokesperson, Rachel Bell, says that other cars on the road had managed to get through the floodwaters.
Zachary Clark studied Human Sciences in the Contemporary World at the University of Dallas and was actively involved in student government, Rotaract and campus ministry. He enjoyed journalism and contributed many articles to The University News. He was known on campus for his bright blue Mustang, his love of Starbucks, and his late night trips to IHOP. He spent the summer of 2014 interning with Fox News in New York City. This summer, he was working with Totus Tuus (Latin for “totally thine”). The ministry is devoted to evangelization. He was spending his summer in Minnesota as a college counselor in youth ministry.
Clark, from Keller, TX, had hoped to work as a therapist for emotionally troubled young adults and to improve mental health awareness on college campuses and beyond, said the Wichita Eagle.
The Clark family invited all members of the UD community to the viewing and funeral held on Thursday July 16 and Friday July 17, respectively. The wake was a mix of emotions; some were overwhelmed with sadness, others, like the Clarks, kept a positive attitude. Mrs. Clark even joked about her son beating her to Heaven. Family, friends and members of his Boy Scout troop attended the wake and found comfort in his happiness from his time in Minnesota and with Dallas friends.
Father Dennis Smith baptized Clark at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and was the celebrant at his funeral Mass, which was held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Keller. The Mass focused on Clark’s loyalty to his commitments and outlook on life. He encouraged those in attendance to take to heart everything Clark had taught them.
The burial was private, but many of his friends went to Starbucks after the funeral mass to honor Clark’s love of the coffee shop.
Clark was a busy man. He made sure the people around him were happy and encouraged them to slow down and enjoy life for just a moment. He would take friends to IHOP at all hours of the night, bring his Rome semester travel companions to hotels rather than hostels, enjoy a concert or play with anyone who could go and offer Starbucks to friends, saying, “it’s on me.” Whether in the Cap Bar, in class or on the Mall, he would almost always be seen with a smile on his face, coffee in hand. His enthusiasm for life was remarkable.