Photojournalist Christopher Daniel Cloppas, 25, of WOAI-TV 4 in San Antonio, TX, was killed in an automobile accident in rural Hancock, NY, in the early morning hours of Tuesday, July 5, according to friends and coworkers. News reports say another occupant of the car was killed and a third was critically injured in the one-car crash around 2:30 a.m. near the Pennsylvania border. The accident then went undiscovered for as much as five hours after the car went out of sight down an embankment and struck several trees.
Cloppas and the others were enroute to the French Woods Performing Arts camp, a children's videography workshop in upstate New York, where they all were going to be camp counselors.
“Chris was a great guy and was on his way to becoming a great photographer," WOAI-TV News 4’s chief photographer Jimmy Sena toldNews Photographer magazine. "We have dedicated our evening shows to him.”
Also killed in the crash was Dina Goldstone, 19, of Wynnewood, PA, an aspiring actress and an honor roll sophomore at NYU who had starred in high school roles and aspired to headline on Broadway. Injured passenger Robbie Porter, 22, of Glasgow, Scotland, reportedly dragged himself up a steep bank – despite a broken leg – to try to flag down help from passing motorists. Porter was hospitalized for his injuries.
"Chris could cover news like a champ and still always have a smile on his face," said his friend Richard Guerra, also a photojournalist at WOAI-TV News 4. "I worked with him for three years. We both started in production and then went to editing, and then shooting. Chris was always enthusiastic about the camera. He was always trying to get better, and he always wanted input on his work. He was extremely creative and he knew how to make this job fun. Chris was a very close friend of mine, and he will be missed. He was an asset to our station."
Police said it was five hours before the accident was discovered and that Cloppas and Goldstone died at the scene. WPVI-TV ABC news in Philadelphia reported that New York State Police said speeding and alcohol were being investigated as possible factors in the crash. Goldstone had attended the camp for 12 years, the Philadelphia Inquirer said in her obituary, and she was going to teach the campers dancing and voice this summer.
Cloppas is survived by his parents, Dan and Vicki Cloppas, of Monument, CO. He was a 2002 graduate of the University of Texas in San Antonio and a 1998 graduate of Kaiserslautern American High School in Germany.