“I do have a thought or two about that dreadful day.
My friend Claudia Rutt lost her life that afternoon while walking down the Drag with her boyfriend.
Claudia and I had danced together for years with the Austin Ballet and Texas Ballet Concerto. We had grown up together and shared a deep enjoyment and love for ballet. She was a couple of years younger and had been accepted to study dance at TCU beginning in September. She was beautiful, talented, fun loving and hard working.
I had just left my early morning class and was en route downtown to a summer part-time job when I heard about the shootings. I have a vivid memory of seeing helicopters buzzing around the Tower during the final assault later that afternoon as I drove I-35.
Though time has dimmed my recollection, I do remember sitting at my grandmother’s home a day or two later. The Austin Statesman arrived and there on the front page was a picture of Claudia as she lay dying; there was no mention at that time of her name… just a victim of Whitman. I was beyond shocked and I was deeply saddened. I found out later that she and her boyfriend had ducked behind a barrier when shooting started. As I remember, he stepped out to see what was happening and was shot. Claudia tried to get to him and was targeted. I do not think she died immediately and that saddened me even more.
I did find out later that Paul Bolton the well-known news anchor for KTBC (the only TV station in Austin) was the boyfriend’s grandfather. I understand that he was reading a list of names of victims on the air when he saw his grandson’s name.
Losing a friend so tragically has remained with me all these years.
Occasionally I will look at the picture I have of Claudia, myself and our dance troop on the front page of the entertainment section of The Austin Statesman and I am reminded of that terrible, tragic loss.
My mother told me several years later that Claudia’s parents had divorced; that the loss and pain had ripped the family apart. It’s just an example of how the ripple effect reaches into so many lives. It certainly touched me and whenever I think of or read of Whitman and that terrible day I think of a life taken that had so much potential.”