Drunk on suspended license kills 3, including pitcher Nick Adenhart - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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Drunk on suspended license kills 3, including pitcher Nick Adenhart

Maybe we need to outlaw cars or booze?

Angels Pitcher Among 3 Killed in SoCal Hit and Run
April 9, 2009

Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart was among three people killed in a crash at a Fullerton intersection early Thursday, just hours after the 22-year-old rookie made his first start of the season.

The pitcher, a 20-year-old woman and a 25-year-old man were killed, according to Fullerton police. The deceased and a fourth person, who was critically injured, were in a silver Mitsubishi Eclipse that was struck by a van.

The van's driver ran from the scene but was captured a short time later, police said. He will be booked on suspicion of murder, DUI and hit-and-run, according to police.

Authorities identified the female victim as Courtney Stewart, of Diamond Bar. Police said she was in the driver's seat. The 25-year-old victim was identified as Henry Nigel Pearson, of Manhattan Beach.

Another passenger, 24-year-old Jon Wilhite of Manhattan Beach, was in critical condition at UC Irvine Medical Center, although he was expected to survive, a hospital spokesman said. Wilhite played baseball from 2004-08 at Cal State Fullerton.

Stewart's mother said her daughter and Adenhart had known each other since last season, Lt. Kevin Hamilton said. The mother said Adenhart and the others had gone dancing at a club about a block away from the crash site, although the crash scene appeared to indicate the car was heading in the direction of the club, Hamilton said.

Adenhart died at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center. Pearson and Stewart were pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

The driver of the van, identified by police as 22-year-old Andrew Gallo, of Riverside, was driving with a license that had been suspended due to a drunken driving conviction, police said.

Gallo was arrested at Orangethorpe and State College Boulevard about 30 minutes after the crash. He was tentatively scheduled to appear in court on Monday, pending a decision on charges by the District Attorney's Office.

Hamilton said investigators tested Gallo's blood-alcohol level, which was above the legal limit of .08, although he declined to give the exact results.

"I do know that the preliminary (result) is over the legal limit," Hamilton said.

Gallo was released Thursday afternoon from UCI Medical Center, where he was treated for abrasions. He was taken for booking at the Fullerton Police Department jail.

A passenger who remained in the minivan suffered minor injuries, police said.

Lt. Doug Cave said two of the vehicles -- one traveling on Lemon, the other on Orangethorpe -- crashed in the intersection. A third vehicle, which was stopped in the intersection, was struck in the crash but sustained only minor damage and its driver was not hurt, Cave said.

Witnesses said a minivan ran a red light, said Fullerton police Lt. Craig Brower.

The Mitsubishi slammed into a light pole.

"The Angels family has suffered a tremendous loss today," Angels GM Tony Reagins said in a statement. "We are deeply saddened and shocked by this tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Nick's family, friends, loved ones and fans."

He had just pitched the best game of his professional career Wednesday night, with six scoreless innings against the Oakland A's in a losing effort.

Stewart was a student at nearby Cal State Fullerton, where she was a cheerleader in 2007-08.

Young Pitcher "Touched a Lot of Lives"

Adenhart's family released a statement Thursday morning.

"Nick's family expresses sincere gratitude for all the help the Angels have provided. He lived his dream and was blessed to be part of an organization comprised of such warm, caring, and compassionate people. The Angels were his extended family. Thanks to all of Nick's loyal supporters and fans throughout his career. He will always be in everyone's hearts forever."

Adenhart's father had flown out from Baltimore to attend the game.

"He told his dad that he'd better come here, that something special was going to happen," said Scott Boras, Adenhart's agent, who wept at a stadium news conference.

After the game, "he was so elated ... he felt like a major leaguer," Boras said.

The agent said he spoke with Adenhart and his father, Jim, a retired Secret Service agent, in the clubhouse lobby until about 11:30 p.m. The pitcher and his father were staying at a nearby hotel.

Adenhart's mother, Janet, was flying to Anaheim on Thursday. His parents were divorced.

The young hurler was born in Silver Spring, Maryland on Aug.24, 1986. He graduated from Williamsport High School in Maryland and made his major league debut on May 1, 2008, according to the station.

Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said the team would do its best to move forward. The team canceled Thursday night's game.

"We're going to cancel the game, but we'll have the team together this afternoon, and I can't tell you exactly what will happen because I don't think any of us know," Scioscia said at an Anaheim news conference. "But we'll get together and start to move forward with this. This is a time for Nick's family and to support them and that's what we're going to focus on."

Adenhart's high school coach Rod Steiner said he learned of the death from his wife.

"After watching him last night, as well as he pitched... Things seemed to be going so smooth, this is the last thing that you ever imagine," Steiner said. "He touched a lot of lives just in the county that everyone was so proud him to make it as far as he did so quickly."

Steiner said Adenhart knew at a young age he wanted to be a major league pitcher.

"He trained for it. He worked hard for it. He had a big setback with his arm. He had Tommy John surgery -- came back from that, and trained real hard during the off-season for this year. He got his opportunity and he really came through for it," Steiner said.

Adenhart's minor league career started in 2005 with the Orem (Utah) Owls. He played for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kernels, Arkansas Travelers and Salt Lake Bees.

The Major League Baseball Players Association said its members were shaken and saddened about the accident.

"Just hours before the accident, Nick demonstrated his passion for baseball and his prospects for a very bright future when he pitched six scoreless innings for the Angels," the association said in a statement. Adenhart, of Silver Spring, Md., was the Angels' No. 3 starter.

Fans, some wearing Angels shirts or carrying flowers, gathered at the intersection Thursday.

Adenhart, a right-hander, earned a spot in the starting rotation on an injury-plagued Angels staff by impressing manager Mike Scioscia late in spring training.

The pitcher made his major league debut May 1 of last year, also against Oakland. He made two other starts, getting his only decision in a victory over the Chicago White Sox on May 12. He was 37-28 in the minor leagues from 2005-08, including 9-13 last year at Triple-A Salt Lake.

Aaron Wells was Adenhart's athletic trainer in 2005 when he played for Utah's Orem Owlz, a rookie league affiliate with the Angels.

"It was very obvious that he was going to be a successful professional pitcher," said Wells, now the team's general manager. "Very humble, extremely good in the club house. He was just such an unassuming guy, just went out and did his business."

The Minnesota Twins held moment of silence before their game against the Seattle Mariners. Also, there was to be a moment of silence before the start of the Texas Rangers' home game against the Cleveland Indians.

Adenhart is the 10th active Major League Baseball player to die since 1990, according to the Angels website.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy; its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery. (Winston Churchill)
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