First-year students Kaitlyn Kotzman and Karina de la Rosa both died in the crash, Dallas Baptist University confirmed

By Joelle Goldstein
October 05, 2020 11:56 AM
Kaitlyn Kotzman (left) and Karina De La Rosa
| Credit: Facebook

Two first-year students at Dallas Baptist University were tragically killed in a car crash early Sunday morning, school officials announced.

In a statement on its website, DBU identified the two students who lost their lives in the crash as Kaitlyn Kotzman and Karina de la Rosa.

Three other students were also involved in the accident and are currently recovering after sustaining non-life-threatening injuries, according to DBU.

"We are devastated by this horrible loss of life," university president Dr. Adam C. Wright said in a statement. "We are praying for the families of all those involved as they process through this tragedy."

The Dallas Police Department tells PEOPLE the two-car crash unfolded on Mountain Creek Parkway, just east of the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

Kaitlyn Kotzman
| Credit: Facebook

Authorities say a 21-year-old woman was driving westbound in the 2100 block of Mountain Creek Parkway when she hit the back of another vehicle, which was driven by an 18-year-old male and transporting Kotzman and de la Rosa.

At this time, it is unclear whether the 21-year-old woman will face charges for the crash, and if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the crash. The Dallas Police Department says they are currently investigating the incident.

In the wake of the crash, Jerry Kotzman spoke to NBC affiliate KXAS about the death of his 18-year-old daughter, noting how he was heartbroken over her lost potential.

"If you had a picture of 'love' of somewhere, you would probably have Jesus and then Kaitlyn, that's just how it was, she loved everybody," he told the outlet of Kaitlyn, who was studying psychology and counseling and had the goal of setting up a non-profit to help inner-city children.

Karina de la Rosa
| Credit: Facebook

"From the time she was just a little kid, even now she didn't know a stranger," the father of two continued. "She loved everybody and became instant friends with everybody. She had this zest for life. She loved living life."

"She always has a heart for everybody," he added to KXAS of Kaitlyn, whom he noted became quick friends with de la Rosa after the pair "jelled and clicked" while living next door to each other in the same dorm.

As his family continues to cope with the unimaginable loss, Jerry told the outlet that they are leaning into their "real" faith and taking each day as it comes.

"It's easy to have faith when things are good — that's easy. It's easy to talk about the goodness of God when things are good, but when things go south, that’s when it becomes real," he shared. "We've had our moments of strength and weakness."

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"I'm a mess, but that strength and comfort [from God] has always been here and without it, I'd be a total mess right now," he added.

DBU said they will be holding a campus-wide prayer service on Monday evening at 7 p.m. in Pilgrim Chapel in honor of Kaitlyn and de la Rosa.

The University will also be providing counseling services for classmates and friends of the two first-year students.