YORK COUNTY, Va. — The Virginia State Police (VSP) said one man was killed after an alleged drunk driver hit three members of the Milligan University Men's Cross Country/Track and Field Team in the Williamsburg area of York County.
According to VSP, five members of the team were running near Williamsburg Pottery Road Thursday evening, when three student-athletes were struck by a red-colored two-door sedan. The driver fled the scene of the crash.
Sophomore Eli Cramer, 20, died from his injuries at the hospital.
“Didn’t really matter if you’d been having a rough day, a bad day, spend 5-10 minutes with Cramer he’d have you laughing on the floor," said Chase McGlamery, Student Government Association president for Milligan University.
Seniors Alex Mortimer and Eli Baldy were the other student-athletes injured in the crash and sent to the hospital.
Classes were canceled at Milligan University Friday, a small private school in Tennessee with less than 1,500 enrolled undergrads.
McGlamery described Cramer as having a "bubbly personality," and was the one to break the news of Cramer's passing to some of his teammates.
“They were expecting some kind of news. Not the news they wanted or what they were thinking would happen, but the emotions were high. It was one of those things that once said it took a couple seconds to really process," said McGlamery, who was the one to break the news of Cramer's passing to some of his other teammates back on campus.
The suspected driver was located after he fled from the scene, eventually crashing into the median on Route 199.
Friday morning, VSP spokeswoman Sgt. Michelle Anaya said troopers suspect Jose Efrain Hernandez Mancia, 26, of driving under the influence.
After he was arrested, Anaya said Mancia refused to take a DUI test, so Riverside Doctors' Hospital had to take a blood sample from him to determine if he was intoxicated.
The Williamsburg man is facing charges for DUI First Offense, DUI Involuntary Manslaughter, DUI Maiming, DUI Refusal, Felony Hit and Run and Reckless Driving.
The Virginia State Police, Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and Commonwealth's Attorney are investigating the incident. According to court officials, Mancia was originally arraigned in the Williamsburg court system Friday morning, which was ultimately not the correct jurisdiction. Mancia will face another arraignment hearing as early as next week in York County because the fatal hit and run took place just over the border into the county.
According to William & Mary Tribe Athletics, the Milligan team was scheduled to participate in the 56th Annual Colonial Relays that starts Friday morning.
Milligan University released a statement asking for prayers during this difficult time, especially for the Cramer family:
"We are incredibly shocked and saddened to share that members of our men’s cross country/track & field team were in an accident involving a vehicle this evening while running near Williamsburg, VA. Sophomore Eli Cramer succumbed to his injuries. Seniors Alex Mortimer and Eli Baldy also were injured. Mortimer currently is undergoing treatment. Baldy was treated and released."
Milligan University also shared this video from Mortimer, whom they said had come out of surgery around midnight.
This incident sent shockwaves to other universities competing in the relays. Norfolk State University Track and Field Director Kenneth Giles said that while reviewing the plans for today’s meet, he noticed an alert about the crash.
“The first thing I thought of was our runners at Norfolk State," he said.
Giles said running off the track is common for many athletes.
“We do it all the time as runners," he said. "As middle-distance, as distance runners, we come out here sometimes just to get away from the track."
A spokesperson from William & Mary sent over this statement:
“Our deepest sympathies are with the entire Milligan University community and all affected by the tragic accident involving members of their Track & Field team on Thursday afternoon. We are in close contact with the program’s administration, coaches and student-athletes and have made a range of university resources available to those in need.”
Giles said his team was processing this news and he’s working to keep them focused on the track.
“We can’t let their mind be all over the place, and we gotta keep their attention span on the track, and that’s our job to do that,” he said.