FRESHMAN BAND MEMBER dies in car accident

Yansel Orta, a freshman snare drum player for the UM Band of the Hour, died in a hit-and-run incident on Feb. 24 while in Orlando for a band competition. He was 18.

According to a story in The Ledger, a local Lakeland, Fla., newspaper, Orta was riding in a 2003 Mercury Mountaineer with five other passengers when the vehicle left roadway off the right shoulder as it headed north on U.S. 27 at around 8:20 p.m. The SUV crossed back over the highway and went into the median, where it rolled over, the story said.

The Ledger also reported that, according to a Polk County Sheriff’s Office report, Orta was ejected and run over by another vehicle that fled the scene.

According to Kellie Clifford, freshman, a friend of Orta, he was passionate about drums and movies, which she said their two major common interests.

“It was really a shock when it happened,” Clifford said.

Clifford said that Orta was very friendly and added that he initiated their friendship over winter break through

“He loved movies,” she said. “He knew a lot about movies and he knew a lot about drums. He was very passionate about drums.”

In addition to drums, Orta also played trumpet for a PDX class he was taking this semester, Clifford said.

She also said that he worked at Office Depot.

Greg Linch can be contacted at