Braden Thommarson | Broadcast Reporter
For many, the term “Immortal Ten” brings to mind memories of the tragic bus crash in Round Rock, Texas, which resulted in the deaths of ten Baylor students. For Eugene Byrne, a Baylor student at the time, becoming part of that tragedy would have been a very real possibility had it not been for an incredibly fortunate turn of events which resulted in him not being on board the bus.
Byrne’s grandson, Baylor alumnus Scott Byrne, class of 1980, to learn his grandfather’s story.
“He was actually scheduled to be on the bus that left here on… that fateful morning,” Byrne said, “But, he overslept.”
Eugene Byrne’s mother heard about the accident on the radio and tried to reach her son by telephone. However, no one would answer, so she called his brother, who promptly headed to Byrne’s residence hall to make sure he was still alive. Byrne then called his mother, who promptly made a request to Byrne’s brother.
“She said ‘Bring him to me,’ because she didn’t believe that he was okay,” Scott Byrne said, “So they drove the 16 miles out to Mart and… verified that he was okay.”
After his mother had verified that he was uninjured and had not been on the bus at that time, Eugene Byrne and his brother returned to Waco, where they stood outside the office of the Lariat.
“They had a big board [with] the names of all the people on the bus,” Byrne said. “They had ‘living’ and ‘deceased,’ and they kept moving the names back and forth.”
Eugene Byrne’s name was still on the list of people aboard the bus, and as a result his name would move back and forth despite Byrne being safe on campus.
The tragedy left an impact on Byrne, his grandson recounts, “it was something that stuck with him for years,” Byrne said.
“My grandfather always talked about it with great reverence,” Byrne said, “…’ten finer men couldn’t have been taken up to heaven,’ was the way he always put it.”
Byrne stressed the importance of honoring the Immortal Ten and expressed gratitude for Baylor continuing to do so.