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Police: Drunk driver hits track athletes running along road, 1 killed

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Posted at 12:59 PM, Apr 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-02 13:59:01-04

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (AP) — An athlete from a Tennessee university was killed Thursday when he and two other members of his team were struck by a car while running along a road in Virginia, state police said.

Members of the Milligan University men’s cross-country and track and field teams were running on a road in Williamsburg about 6 p.m. when three of them were hit, Virginia State Police said in a news release.

Five people were taken to Williamsburg Sentara Hospital, where sophomore Eli Cramer, 20, died and two others were seriously injured, police said.

Four team members and a coach were running together Thursday when the crash happened, Milligan spokeswoman Chandrea Shell said. The university said in a statement that seniors Alex Mortimer and Eli Baldy also were injured. Baldy was treated and released.

Cramer, a business administration major from Murfreesboro, was the third finisher on the 2021 national championship cross-country team, a two-time All-American and two-time All-AAC for cross-country, the university said. In track and field, Cramer was a four-time national qualifier.

In a statement, Milligan Student Government President Chase McGlamery called Cramer a “stranger to no one.”

“He held a contagious energy that was integral to his team and our campus community,” McGlamery said. “Cramer was a man who knew when to put his head down and work or when to steal the room with a sarcastic comment.”

In a video statement the university posted on Facebook, Mortimer thanked people for their prayers and said he was told the worst of his injuries are a broken leg and dislocated shoulder.

“I want to say that moments like this make you realize what is and is not important in your life,” Mortimer said. “Do not forsake or discount the beauty and the gift of life. It is like a vapor and it flashes before our eyes.”

The driver fled but crashed into a median a short time later and the driver, Jose Efrain Hernandez Mancia, 26, of Williamsburg, was taken into custody, police said. Mancia is charged with DUI, DUI-involuntary manslaughter, one felony count of hit and run, reckless driving, DUI-maiming and DUI refusal to submit a breath/blood sample, police said. Online court records do not list an attorney who could comment on Mancia’s behalf.

The Milligan team was one of dozens set to compete Friday and Saturday in the Colonial Relays hosted by William & Mary in Williamsburg. A moment of silence was held before Friday’s events, William & Mary Associate Athletics Director Pete Clawson said in an email.

The Milligan team is traveling back to the university Friday and won’t compete in the event, Shell said.

Milligan suspended all learning activities Friday, but said faculty would be present in their classes to support and grieve with students who wish to attend. The university, which is affiliated with the nondenominational Christian Churches, has an enrollment of 1,300 students, according to its website. The school is located about 95 miles (153 kilometers) northeast of Knoxville.