ABILENE, Texas -

The State Department of Public Safety released details Wednesday of the Interstate 20 traffic accident that killed 20-year-old McMurry University running back Billy Charles Cole III.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Dean of Student Affairs Vanessa Roberts Bryan honored Billy's memory.

"Billy was an exceptional individual and he was filled with kindness joy and a true zest for life," said Bryan.

Cole was the running back for McMurry University but that was not all he was.

Cole had a pristine academic record and in his spare time he tutored his fellow classmates.

"He was one of our very very top business students," Bryan said, "achieving a pristine, incredibly pristine academic record. One that others would envy."

Billy was popular within the McMurry community and he always tried to brighten the day of others.

"He had a contagious smile and definitely a very joyful spirit and he spread that wherever he went," said Bryan.

The football program as a whole mourns the loss of Billy Cole III and Head Coach Lance Hinson sent out a statement.

"Our first concern is for Billy's family, loved ones and teammates. football is on the back burner right now. all of our energies are in supporting and uplifting those who are grieving at this time."

According to DPS, the accident occurred about 6 p.m. Tuesday on I-20 – about three miles east of Putman – in Callahan County.

Cole III, a junior running back for the War Hawks, was a graduate of Sachse High School. He was set to begin his third season as part of the McMurry offensive backfield corps.

He was pronounced dead at 7:29 p.m. Tuesday and taken to Baum-Carlock-Bumgardner Funeral Home in Mineral Wells, a DPS news release said.    

He was wearing a seat belt while traveling west in a 2008 Chevrolet HHR in the left lane of I-20, while a 2004 Ford Van – driven by 50-year-old Jesus Fierros of Desoto – was traveling east in the left lane of I-20, DPS said.

“(Cole’s vehicle) drifted off of the edge of the road, overcorrected, and entered the median in a side skid,” the DPS release said. “(Cole’s vehicle) entered the eastbound lanes of IH-20 striking (Fierros’ vehicle).”

Fierros was taken to Hendrick Medical Center, where he is in critical condition, the release said.

To honor the loss of Cole, the McMurry football team will not hold their first formal practice Wednesday evening. Instead they will meet in a private session sharing stories and remembering Billy Cole III.