The U.S. baseball community, and the St. Louis Cardinals in particular, received a shock this past Sunday, October 26, when news broke that a car crash occurred in the Dominican Republic, killing the beloved outfielder Oscar Taveras. Taveras was 22 years old, and was regarded as “one of the most promising pieces of the organization’s future,” and “an elite prospect” in the baseball industry.
Taveras was driving his 2014 Chevrolet Camaro in his home city of Puerta Plata, which is about 200 miles north of the Dominican Republic’s capital city of Santo Domingo. Reports of the crash state that Taveras was driving on a curved road when he lost control, causing the car to slam into a tree trunk.
The Dominican Republic native was driving with 18-year-old girlfriend Edilia Arvelo, who also died in the crash.
As of October 28, investigators have not been able to determine the exact cause of the accident, and have not been able to confirm if alcohol was involved. Reports have noted, however, that it had been raining and that the roads were fairly slick; a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority also told the Associated Press that investigators believe that Taveras was driving at a “very high speed.”
To make matters worse, the negative effects of social media sharing features are starting to emerge: a gritty photo of Taveras’s post-accident body has been circulating through social media websites and making the grieving process for his friends and family even harder.
Investigators are often able to identify certain details in a crash by examining the bodies — for example, it’s easy to figure out if the driver and/or passengers were wearing seat belts, and only about 3% of all fatal car crashes are too gruesome to yield a definitive answer. In Taveras’s accident, officials haven’t yet confirmed whether safety features (including seat belts) were used.
To put it another way, seeing a picture of Taveras’s body shouldn’t have been necessary in order for fans to understand the horror of the crash.
Although the St. Louis Cardinals have made no official condemnation of the photo’s circulation, it’s clear that the management and team are treading carefully on social media platforms regarding Taveras and Arvelo. It’s likely that the conversation will open up as more details about the crash emerge, but for the time being, many dedicated baseball fans are urging the community to focus on celebrating Taveras’s young career and on giving both families privacy and respect.