ORLANDO, Fla. – Many are in mourning after the death of 22-year-old Nic Thomas, who was killed in a four-vehicle crash early Tuesday morning.
Thomas was a beloved University of Central Florida Cheer alumnus.
The Florida Highway Patrol reported the deadly crash happened on I-4 east near Saxon Boulevard in Deltona.
Thomas’ motorcycle, a car, a semitrailer and a truck pulling a boat trailer were all involved in the crash, and Thomas was pronounced dead on scene.
Anthony Medeiros, Thomas’ mentee, said he found out about the tragic incident during cheer practice at Deland High School.
“Kind of just broke down, and I was just in shock,” Medeiros said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
He said Thomas was more than a cheerleader, he was an amazing coach, mentor and friend.
“I’ve had a lot of coaches growing up playing different sports, but he just stood out,” Medeiros said.
Liza Morgan coaches the Deland High School cheer team. She said that for years, Thomas split his time between cheering for UCF and mentoring her team. They were also roommates.
“I just think Nic is like a superhuman, so it wasn’t even a thought to me that he wasn’t going to make it back,” she said.
Morgan said she is still in disbelief.
“I don’t know how I’m [going to] go back to coaching without him, honestly,” she said.
Conner Hernandez is also on the team. He could not help but smile when talking about Thomas, though he admitted it will be hard to accept the fact that he is gone.
“This season, I feel like it’s going to be very tough without having him sitting right in front of that mat, supporting us at all times,” Hernandez said.
Some of the cheer squad met at Studio 21 in Daytona Beach Wednesday to get matching tattoos in honor of Thomas.
The different tattoos symbolized Thomas’ many loves.
A few girls on the team got hearts with an airplane attached. They said Thomas was a private pilot with hopes to become a professional pilot one day.
Hernandez got a tattoo of a motorcycle handle because Thomas loved motorcycles. Next to the handle is a hand reaching toward it.
Hernandez said he chose this design because there were so many things he did not get a chance to tell Thomas before he died.
The team has a cheer clinic at UCF this weekend. They said they still plan to attend because that is what Thomas would have wanted.