Todd Ritchie woke at 10 a.m. Friday to a text from a former Texas Tech teammate.
“Happy Fourth of July, don’t blow your fingers off,” Elliot Richoux wrote.
Five hours later, Richoux was found dead at Lake Conroe after jumping off a dock during a Fourth of July celebration.
“That (text) was just Elliot. He doesn’t forget anybody,” said Ritchie. “He still texted us and said ‘Wreck ‘em.’ He was that guy. He had a lot of good in his heart and the only thing that makes this any better at all is that I know he is going to be in a better place.”
After leaping into the lake’s shallow water, Richoux briefly surfaced before sinking out of sight, Lt. Tim Cade of the Montgomery County Precinct 1 Lake Division told the Houston Chronicle.
Authorities received the emergency call at 3:25 p.m. Friday. Witnesses at a party in the Walden subdivision directed divers to the spot where the Richoux was last seen and his body was recovered within 30 minutes.
Paramedics tried unsuccessfully to revive him, Cade said. Officials are still investigating the cause of death.
He would have turned 22 later this month.
“This was an extremely tragic accident that family witnessed right in front of their eyes,” Cade told the Chronicle.
Richoux played in 25 games for Texas Tech in 2013, driving in 12 runs and scoring seven times in 60 at-bats.
“We are extremely saddened to hear this tragic news involving Elliot,” Texas Tech head coach Tim Tadlock said in a release. “We want to offer our condolences to his mother, Deborah, and father, David. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this very difficult time.”
Richoux, who was a second-team NJCAA All-American catcher, was also a teammate of Tech pitcher Dominic Moreno when he got his start with the Howard College Hawks.
Anytime Moreno was in a tough position on the mound, he could depend on Richoux to make him laugh.
“He did it all the time,” Moreno said. “This is tough. He pretty much caught all of my games when I was at Howard (College). But, he was more than a catcher to me. ... We were friends. It was good times.”
Those times extended into helping each other get to the next level — getting to Tech.
Moreno, Richoux and their friend, Spencer Davis, who is now at Central Florida, worked out together, watched each other’s nutrition and hung out after practices .
“We would always talk about what we were going to do,” Moreno said. “When Ritchie, Elliot and me ended up Tech, we were all excited.”
Before coming to West Texas, Richoux was a three-year letterman at The Woodlands, where he earned all-state honors as a senior and had a combined 22 home runs over his final two years.
“Anytime you lose a young person to a tragedy like this, it is tough on the community,” The Woodlands baseball coach Ron Eastman said. “Elliot was a very good young man and he loved life.
“I am sure he will be missed. It is a devastating tragedy.”
Eastman said what he will remember Richoux the most for is how much he wanted to succeed on the diamond.
“Elliot had a great sense of humor. I had him with us (at The Woodlands) for four years and he left an impression on us. He was driven in life and for baseball.
“He pushed hard to make it to the next level.”
For Ritchie, Richoux’s death was like losing a brother. For three years, Ritchie woke up at 7 a.m. and the two worked out together, getting ready and getting better. For three years, they were teammates, friends and developed a bond of brotherhood.
“He always would try to get to me say ‘Hawks fly together,’ even after we came to Tech,” Ritchie said. “But, I would never (say) it. I’d always tell him we made it. We are at Tech now. I never would say it.
“But, today, when I heard, I said it for him. ‘Hawks fly together.’”
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