Beloved and respected Dallas film and entertainment reporter Gary Murray was killed in a hit-and-run crash on Mockingbird Lane near Central Expressway Friday night after leaving a Dallas International Film Festival event at the Angelika Theater at Mockingbird Station.
Along with loads of heartache, the accident also brings heightened attention to dangers at destinations frequented by Preston Hollow-dwelling shoppers, moviegoers and Mustang fans.
In this case, the victim was walking in a crosswalk on the Central Expressway service road — leaving an event at the Angelika theater and heading across the street to The Highland Hotel — when a car failed to stop, ran Murray down and did never paused to render aid. It is a path often traversed on foot by SMU parents, theater lovers and shoppers, to name a few.
Dallas police are still searching for the driver and car, possibly a truck. A police spokesperson confirms that officers responded to the call at Mockingbird and North Central Expressway service road at about 10:16 pm. Friday. Murray was transported to Baylor hospital by ambulance where friends say he died a little after 2 a.m.
His family, friends and peers in the industry are shocked and saddened.
Gary was the sitting president of the North Texas Film Critics Association, and also wrote for Richardson-based Selig Film News, PopSyndicate, TheCityWeb, and Entertainment Showcase, according to his contemporaries at the long-running movie-news site, BigFanBoy.com.
Gary started writing in Dallas in 1989 for the North Dallas Movie Review, notes blogger Devin Pike. “When I re-entered the film press realm in 2009, Gary was one of the first people in the local critic sphere who befriended me. That was his way. He was an amazingly genial person, whose knowledge of music and film was encyclopedic. “We mourn the loss of his voice, his laugh, and his passion,” Pike says.
“Gary was the type of person you loved the second you met him. He was a true and genuine friend and really cared about how you were doing and feeling. He was also an incredible film critic and old school journalist. He knew his stuff. You can talk to him about any film and he knew all of the ins and outs of the story line and production,” note his coworkers at Selig. “He wanted to share his love of film with everyone who would listen. The last week of his life was spent covering what he loved … His passion for life and films could be felt anytime he was in the room. We love him very much and his loss is a big one for the art of film.”
Don Ford of the NTFCA says he arrived at the hospital just before Murray died. “I want you all to know that he did not pass alone and he had someone he loved as brother by his side,” Ford wrote in a letter to NTFCA members.
Murray also was a comedian who taught at the Comedy Guys Defensive Driving school in Mesquite.
“Gary was with Comedy Guys since its founding, and he actually wrote the curriculum that we use in our classes. In recent years, Gary has taught all our defensive driving classes in Mesquite … A truly kind and thoughtful man, Gary will be missed by all of us, and our sympathies go out to his family members in Houston,” note the driving school operators.
One of Murray’s relatives, Joyce Schmidt, noted on Facebook that Murray’s older brother died a few years ago. “They are going though, for the second time, the thing that no parent should ever have to go through …”
Many Preston Hollow/Southern Methodist University-area residents note that the intersection where Murray was killed is particularly dangerous. “I lived in that area for 20 years,” Tweets Susan Durham. “I have a friend who is an SMU professor who was run down in the crosswalk and given a ticket for obstructing traffic …”
“I am convinced that Mockingbird, just south of Mockingbird Station, is one of the single most dangerous places for pedestrians in the entire Southwest,” wrote (anonymous, prolific, well-informed) current events commenter Wylie H Dallas on Facebook. “It is almost impossible to safely cross. In all seriousness, the hotel should have warning cards in its room that warn guests against attempting to walk to either Mockingbird Station or SMU.”
Organizers of last weekend’s film festival placed ‘in memoriam’ notices before each of last weekend’s screenings in Murray’s memory.
His funeral will be held in the Houston, TX area. Viewing is April 29 from 5-8 p.m. and the funeral is April 30 at 2 p.m., at the Sterling White Funeral Home, 11011 Crosby-Lynchburg Rd., Highlands, TX 77562.