Students and parents have had a tough time processing the news.
"You feel shocked, feel sadness, you feel anger, grief, disbelief, and it's all coming at you at one time and that's coming from and adults so I can't imagine what these kids are going to right now," said Justin Upreach, a teacher at NCHS, who taught Jose Damian last year as a freshman.
"He was a very respectful kid," Upreach said. "A lot of times these kids don't know how to process their emotions oh it's up to us as adults and educators to help them work through these things," he said.
Many students showed up wearing red, which was Damian's favorite color. Word spread on social media as a way to honor the 17-year-old.
"You know we have a playoff game coming up this week. Everyone was excited about that. But I think today everybody needs to be focused on trying to support his family as best we can," said Chris Daniel, a senior at NCHS.
The accident happened Sunday around 4:45 a.m. on the Eastex Freeway southbound near FM 1960. Police say a drunk driver plowed into the back of a vehicle while 17-year-old Jose Damian was underneath it removing a tire jack.
Humble police had to shut down all southbound lanes of the freeway until 1:30 p.m. to investigate the circumstances leading to the crash.
Jose and his brother were on their way to a truck show in Pasadena, Texas, when they got a flat tire near the exit ramp. They got out to change the flat and were just about finished, when Jose got under the vehicle to remove the jack. That's when a sedan slammed into their truck's rear. Jose was killed at the scene.
The driver of the other vehicle was identified as Charles Baxter Jr., 32, from Humble, Texas. He was transported to LBJ Hospital and treated and released. Baxter was found to be intoxicated and is in police custody charged with intoxication manslaughter and possession of a controlled substance.
Jose's brother, Javier Damian, was not injured in the crash. He and his family were at the scene earlier, waiting for Jose's body to be removed from the freeway.
The trip to the truck show was a gift for Jose from his older brother for his birthday. Jose just turned 17 on Friday.
"I was on the other side (of the truck) putting up some tools that I took out. And then when I saw the car coming, I just screamed. I just screamed and then, it just happened really, really fast," Javier Damian told Eyewitness News.
Jose was a sophomore at New Caney High School.
Below is a statement from New Caney school district and Superintendent Kenn Franklin:
- It is with great sadness that New Caney ISD learned of the passing of Jose Maria Damian Rodriguez Sunday morning. Jose was a sophomore at New Caney High School. Grief counselors will be on campus this week to provide counseling and support for students and staff as needed.
"We hold our students and families in the highest regard, and we extend our deepest condolences to Jose's family and friends," Superintendent Kenn Franklin said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this most difficult time."