Nick Adenhart walked off the mound on Thursday, April 9, 2009 with, perhaps, his finest big-league performance in the books.
Unfortunately, Mr. Adenhart's promising career was cut short just hours later when he died in a suspected drunken driving crash in the Fullerton, California area.
According to police, Diamond Bar resident Courtney Frances Stewart, 20, was behind the wheel of a silver Mitsubishi Eclipse sedan as it traveled near the corner of Lemon Street and Orangethorpe Avenue. Around 12:25 p.m., the Eclipse was hit by 22-year-old Riverside resident Andrew Thomas Gallo, who was operating a minivan.
Paramedics responded to the scene, but were unable to save Ms. Stewart, nor a passenger in the Eclipse, Manhattan Beach resident Henry Nigel Pearson, 25. A third occupant, Mr. Adenhart, 22, was taken to the University of California-Irvine Medical Center, where he died in surgery.
A fourth occupant, Manhattan Beach resident Jon Wilhite, 24, was also taken to UC-Irvine, where he was listed in critical condition.
Mr. Gallo fled on foot but was apprehended within roughly half an hour. Investigators say Mr. Gallo entered the intersection against a red light.
Officers also detected impairment on the part of Mr. Gallo and was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, vehicular manslaughter, murder and hit-and-run. Reports indicate that has been convicted for drunken driving previously and was driving on a suspended license at the time of the crash.
On the night of the accident, Mr. Adenhart made his season debut for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In front of the hometown crowd, he pitched six shutout innings against the Oakland Athletics, helping the Angels take a 4-0 lead, although they would eventually lose 6-4.
Mr. Adenhart injured a ligament in his elbow while attending Maryland's Williamsport High School, but was drafted by Anaheim, anyway. He underwent Tommy John surgery and had moved up through the minor leagues to reach the Angels.
Police said Mr. Adenhart and his three friends had just left Ms. Stewart's apartment and were headed to a nearby dance club, In Cahoots, when they passed through a green light Police estimate that Mr. Gallo was driving his Toyota Sienna minivan at 50 to 60 miles per hour when he struck the Eclipse.
Mr. Pearson was reportedly a law student, while Ms. Sttewart was a student at,California State University-Fullerton. Mr. Wilhite formerly played catcher for the Cal State-Fullerton team.
Police said Gallo was convicted in San Bernardino County of drunken driving in 2006 and with marijuana possession in 2007.
Sadly, drunken-driving fatalities are an all-too-common occurence. The California Department of Motor Vehicles, reports that alcohol was a factor in 1,489 traffic fatalities in 2007.
Those who get behind the wheel while under the influence take away the right of others to safety. Alcohol and other substances leave drivers unable to react in time and impairs their judgment to make the right decision.
Victims of alcohol-involved accidents should seek the opinion of a qualified attorney to protect their rights.
If you've been injured by a drunken driver contact the Indiana accident attorneys of Keller & Keller. We offer a free consultation on your potential case.