Art Car Museum curator killed in wreck

May 12, 2008 10:29:40 AM PDT
A crash in front of the Art Car Museum killed the museum's curator of photography just hours after the annual Art Car Parade. And the man police say caused the accident has been charged. A memorial is now springing up at the deadly accident scene. Friends who knew Tom Jones, 51, say he never met a stranger and he played an unforgettable role in the art car community, adding it's a very dark day for Houston.

He was sitting on the curb in front of the museum Saturday night when police say a suspected drunk driver, identified as Dustin Allen Poe, 23, lost control, striking a parked car, which then struck Jones.

For the past four years, Jones has been curator at the Art Car Museum.

"He was part of art car before art car became a parade," said Nicole Strine, President of the Houston Art Car Klub.

Those who knew him best say it was more than a job, it's been a passion for most of his life.

"It's a loss and I can't imagine what it's going to be like to have the art car community without Tom in it," said Strine.

Outside the museum, friends remembered the man known for many talents from painter to photographer, entertainer and even mechanic. Director of the Museum Noah Edmundson says he can see the work of Jones in almost every corner of the museum.

"I think about all he did around here and it's going to take ten people to replace him," said Edmundson.

Jones was killed as the biggest weekend for art car enthusiasts came to a close.

Artists around the world have been calling Houston, offering their sympathy.

"With Tom, there was no negative. He's gonna be greatly missed," said Strine.

For a man who did so much to encourage expression.

"That's what Houston is really gonna miss, someone to give someone else a chance and always a helping hand," said Edmundson.

Friends say Jones had to learn to walk again after a 2001 accident when he was struck while on his motorcycle. They believe that may have hindered him being able to move out of the way last night.

Poe, who was taken into custody at the scene, is charged with intoxication manslaughter.

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