Mark Rogers, president of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Abilene, was killed in a two-vehicle crash Saturday, according to an Abilene police news release.
The crash occurred at about 1:05 p.m. on State Highway 36 at Blackburn Road, the release said. Blackburn Road is just over 2 miles south of the entrance to Abilene Regional Airport.
The Rogers vehicle, a pickup, was northbound when it was approached from behind by a Dodge Challenger driven by James Wells, 50.
“Witnesses say the Challenger was traveling north on Highway 36 at a high rate of speed, passing vehicles on the two-lane road,” the release said.
Near Blackburn Road, the Challenger attempted to pass the truck, but another vehicle was in the oncoming lane. The driver of the Challenger attempted to get back into its lane and clipped the rear of the truck, causing it to veer off the roadway, police said.
The truck struck a tree before coming to a stop in a field, the release said. The Challenger also ended off the roadway and ignited.
Rogers, 39, was pronounced dead at the scene. His passengers – wife, Jennifer, and their 8-year-old son and daughters ages 10 and 11 – were transported to a hospital for treatment. Wells also was taken to the hospital, the release said.
Police did not release their conditions.
Police continue to investigate the crash, and “additional information may be released at a later time as it becomes available,” the release said.
“Mark was one of the first community members to welcome me to the department and to the city. This devastating loss will be felt throughout the community,” said Police Chief Marcus Dudley.
Mayor Anthony Williams also expressed his condolences in the release.
“Mark was the very definition of a servant leader, and I know his death will be hard to understand,” Williams said. “Please join me in praying for his family and the community as we collectively process this profound loss.”
In a statement Saturday night, Pierce Bush, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star, called Rogers “a kind human being in every possible way. He was a constant bright light who brought nothing but joy to those he met and to our entire Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star organization.
“Mark was uniquely full of talent, funny, charismatic, thoughtful, generous, and inspiring – he was the very essence of a servant leader and we were all blessed by his leadership and his friendship.”
Rogers was created with substantial growth in the nonprofit, both in number of children served and in finances, Bush said.
“Thousands of children in Abilene benefited through our mission because of how Mark poured himself into it every single day,” Bush said. “… Our entire agency mourns the loss of this incredible, good man. Our team will do everything we can to support the woman he loved, Jenn, and his children Haelyn, Hope and Hunter.”
Named one of 20 top Abileninas under age 40 in 2020, Rogers said he loved his job with Big Brothers Big Sisters because “I like the thought of the things I choose to do every day having a direct or indirect positive impact on the people around me.”
As for the best advice the Abilene Christian University graduate had received, he said: “How you do anything is how you do everything, so pay attention to the small stuff.
“Also, finish what you start.”
Laura Gutschke is a general assignment reporter and food columnist and manages online content for the Reporter-News. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.