Angels' Adenhart Killed In Car Wreck

Just hours after Nick Adenhart made his first start of the season for the Los Angeles Angels, the 22-year-old righthander was killed in a hit-and-run accident, the Los Angeles Angels have confirmed.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that witnesses reported to police that a minivan ran a red light and struck Adenhart's silver Mitsubishi. Two other passengers in Adenhart's car were killed, while another was taken to a hospital.

Adenhart's family released a statement through the Angels.

"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."

Angels General Manager Tony Reagins released a statement as well.

"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."

The van that hit the car Adenhart was traveling in was attempting to make a left turn when the accident occurred. The driver of the van was Andrew Gallo, 22, of Riverside, Calif. Gallo is scheduled to be arraigned on April 13 and was booked for vehicular manslaughter, felony hit and run and felony driving under the influence.

Tonight's Angels game has been cancelled.

The female passenger was identified as Courtney Stewart, an acquaintance of Adenhart, but the identities of the other passenger who was also killed has not yet been released. The lone survivor, according to a Cal State Fullerton spokesman, is Jon Wilhite, a former CSF baseball player. Wilhite, who redshirted on the Titans' 2004 national championship team and served as a backup catcher/first baseman from '05 to '08, is in critical condition in the intensive care unit at the UC Irvine Medical Center, according to the Titans media relations staff.

Adenhart, the Angels' 14th-round pick out of Williamsport, Md. high school in 2004, had developed into one the team's top prospect and had earned a job in the starting rotation with a fine spring training performance.  Baseball America's most recent organization report on the Angels had detailed how Adenhart was eager to get a second chance at pitching in the majors after a brief stint with Los Angeles last season.

Adenhart was Baseball America's 2003 Youth Player of the Year after he led his summer league team to a All-American Amateur Baseball Association World Series title. He ended up missing the end of his senior season at Williamsport (Md.) High thanks to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Because of that injury, he was expected to head to college—he had committed to North Carolina. But the Angels took a chance on drafting him anyway, then offered him $710,000 to rehab as a pro instead of heading to college.

It quickly proved to be a wise gamble. Adenhart made a full recovery from the elbow injury to pitch effectively in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2005. The next year he dominated in 16 starts at low Class A Cedar Rapids (10-2, 1.95) and followed it up with a late-season promotion to high Class A Rancho Cucamonga that confirmed his status as one of the Angels' top prospects.

Adenhart had done nothing in the past two years to change that assesment, and eventually the Angels decided to promote him last summer for three starts in the big leagues, although he struggled in his first taste of the majors. Those struggles carried over to Triple-A upon his return, but he headed into the offseason as the team's No. 1 prospect, a status he reinforced with a strong spring.

"Nick was a kid that had great energy but he didn't show it," Reagins said at a press conference. "He was poised, he was professional and he went about his business. Being in minor league development, which I was before I got the GM position, I had a chance to interact with Nick on a day-to-day basis and nothing ever fazed this kid. He would deal with the peaks and valleys and last night we saw one of his peaks. He was a great kid and he's going to be missed."