Angels rookie and former Bees pitcher Adenhart dies in car crash

Published: Thursday, April 9 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels rookie pitcher Nick Adenhart and two other people were killed Thursday when a minivan ran a red light and struck their car.

Adenhart, 22, died in surgery at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, Fullerton police said in a statement. He was a passenger in the car.

Adenhart's death came just hours after he made his fourth major league start, throwing six scoreless innings in Wednesday night's loss to Oakland.

"His father flew out here from Baltimore to watch him start last night, so his father is here, obviously going through a great deal of grief," Angels spokesman Tim Mead said.

The Angels confirmed Adenhart's death in a statement and said no other members of their organization were involved in the accident. A 24-year-old man who was in the same car remained hospitalized in critical condition, police said.

A preliminary test indicated the driver of the minivan had a blood-alcohol level above the legal limit, police Lt. Kevin Hamilton said at a news conference.

"The Angels family has suffered a tremendous loss today. 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," general manager Tony Reagins said.

The team said Adenhart was survived by his parents, Jim and Janet.

"He lived his dream and was blessed to be part of an organization comprised of such warm, caring, and compassionate people," the family said in a statement issued through the team.

"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."

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.

Adenhart and three other people were in a silver Mitsubishi sedan that was broadsided at an intersection shortly before 12:30 a.m. by a minivan that apparently ran a red light, the police statement said. The impact spun around both vehicles, and one then struck another car but that driver was not hurt, police Lt. Kevin Hamilton said.

The Mitsubishi struck a light pole. Adenhart was taken to a hospital and died while a 20-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man were pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Their names were not immediately released.

Police Lt. Craig Brower said the minivan driver fled the crash scene on foot and was captured a short time later.

Andrew Thomas Gallo, 22, of Riverside, fled but was arrested a half-hour later for investigation of felony hit-and-run driving. He was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries from the crash and could face charges including vehicular manslaughter or possibly murder, Hamilton said.

There was no immediate word on his condition.

Gallo had a previous drunken driving conviction and was driving with a suspended license, police said. A 21-year-old passenger in the van was treated for minor injuries at a hospital.

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.

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