Oscar Taveras, an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and a rising star of Major League Baseball, was killed in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic over the weekend, several major news outlets have confirmed.
He was driving a new Chevrolet Camaro and heading from Jamao to Sousa, his hometown, located near Puerto Plata on the Atlantic Coast.
His girlfriend, Edilia Arvelo, was also killed. Taveras was 22 and Arvelo 18.
Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement, “We are all stunned and deeply saddened by the tragic loss of one of the youngest members of the Cardinals family. … Oscar was an amazing talent with a bright future who was taken from us well before his time.”
John Mozeliak, general manager for the Cardinals, echoed the sentiment. “I first met Oscar when he was 16 years old and will forever remember him as a wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived every day to the fullest,” he said.
Taveras debuted with the Cardinals just this season and played 80 games, batting .239. He had been ranked as the second- and third-best prospect by Baseball American, MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus in the past few years.
Fatal Crashes at Home and Abroad
Lieutenant Junior Lopez Reyes of the Puerto Plata police said that the cause of the accident was not yet clear. “We’re still investigating at the scene. We’ve had some heavy rainfall here lately. It might have contributed to the accident,” he said.
Taveras is the first active MLB player to die since Greg Halman was stabbed to death by his brother in 2011. But he is not the only athlete to have a career cut short but a fatal crash. Olympic silver medalist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was killed in a car crash in South Africa only a few days ago.
According to data from the World Health Organization released last year, most countries are improving road safety and reducing traffic-related deaths, but poorer countries in particular still have a long way to go.
The WHO data show that the Dominican Republic had 41.7 road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010, while the United States had only 11.6. However, the vast size of the U.S. means that total accident numbers in the country are extremely high; in 2012, there were 25,580 fatal auto accidents in the U.S., according to Statistic Brain.
Another player for the Cardinals, Josh Hancock, died in a car crash in 2007.