Catcher raising cash for survivor of crash that killed pitcher
“Oakland A’s Kurt Suzuki hosts auction for family of Jon Wilhite, hurt in crash that killed Angels’ Adenhart, 2 others”
Oakland A’s catcher Kurt Suzuki and his wife are hosting a memorabilia auction beginning tonight at Cal State Fullerton to raise funds for Jon Wilhite, the lone survivor of an April 9 car crash that killed Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, Henry Pearson and Courtney Stewart.
Suzuki played for Cal State Fullerton with Wilhite in 2004 and put together the auction, which will run during the Titans three-game homestand against Long Beach State.
“Our hearts go out to all the families of those involved in this terrible tragedy,” Suzuki said. “I only hope that the money raised will alleviate some of the cost that Jon and his family will be faced with during his long rehab process.”
Kristy Fick, a spokesperson with the A’s, said Wilhite’s condition was upgraded to “fair” and is undergoing speech, physical and occupational therapy at a rehabilitation center.
All funds raised through the Suzuki’s fundraising efforts will help pay for Wilhite’s rehabilitation costs after recovering from injuries that included an operation on April 15 to reattach his skull and spinal column after a rare separation.
“Jon is tough, and has worked hard for everything he has earned in baseball and in life,” Suzuki said. “He was always like a little brother to everyone on the team at Fullerton.”
Suzuki’s wife, Renee, will co-host the fundraiser throughout the weekend.
Items up for bid include items autographed by former Titans and 49ers Major League baseball players including Suzuki, Chad Cordero, Bobby Crosby, Jason Giambi, Mark Kotsay and Kirk Saarloos.
Fick said the A’s will host an online auction on the team’s Web site, oaklandathletics.com, throughout the month of June. Additionally, there will be two fundraisers in July and August at Oakland Coliseum.
Donations can be made to the Jon Wilhite Recovery Fund, account 3980643658, at any Wells Fargo Bank branch, or to a tax deductible account set up through Manhattan Beach Little League by mailing a check to: Manhattan Beach Little League, P.O. Box 3512, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266, with “Jon Wilhite Recovery Fund” written in on the memo line.
Fullerton police said the Mitsubishi Eclipse that Stewart was driving was struck by a minivan that allegedly ran a red light at Orangethorpe Avenue and Lemon Street in Fullerton at 65 mph, killing Stewart, 20, Adenhart, 22, and Pearson, 25.
The four friends were headed to a dance club, In Cahoots, to celebrate Adenhart’s pitching performance against the Oakland A’s hours earlier, said Stewart’s mother, Carrie Stewart-Dixon.
The driver of the van, Andrew Thomas Gallo, is being held in lieu of $2 million bail. Gallo, 22, is charged with three counts of second-degree murder and is accused of driving with a blood-alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit.
Gallo is scheduled to be arraigned on June 8 and faces a maximum sentence of 54 years and eight months to life in prison if convicted.
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