A pair of baseball players were killed in a traffic crash this morning, which authorities suggest may have been deliberately caused by a group of delinquents looking to rob them.
Jose Castillo, 37, and Luis Valbuena, 33, died during the overnight hours when their car swerved off a stretch of highway that connects Yaracuy and Barquisimeto states. The drive said that he swerved to avoid an object that was blocking the road.
During his career, Castillo played in the major leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the San Francisco Giants, and the Houston Astros. Most recently, he played in Japan’s professional baseball league with the Yokohama BayStars and the Chiba Lotte Marines. Valbuena played with the Seattle Mariners, the Cleveland Indians, the Chicago Cubs, the Houston Astros, and most recently with the Los Angeles Angels.
The Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional [Venezuelan Professional Baseball League] (LVBP) announced the deaths of the two players shortly after 6:00 AM this morning in a tweet:
The LVBP deeply regrets the tragic deaths of Jose Castillo and Luis Valbuena, who were Venezuelan baseball players. The executive committee and operations and administrative personal send their condolences to their relatives and friends. May their souls be in peace.
Reaction to the deaths of the two baseball stars also spread throughout Major League Baseball:
The LVBP also announced that it would fly the Venezuelan flag at half-mast at all domestic games over the next three days, and that teams playing in the post-season would wear items on their uniforms to signify their mourning for the loss of the two men. All of the games that were scheduled for today were also canceled.
The caskets containing the bodies of the two men have been placed at home plate in Barquisimeto’s Antonio Herrera Gutierrez baseball stadium:
Yaracuy State Governor Says Four Arrested In Connection with Crash
Julio Leon Heredia, the governor of Yaracuy state, said in a series of tweets that four individuals have been arrested in connection to the crash that killed Valbuena and Castillo.
Heredia confirmed that the pair died after their car swerved off the highway to avoid hitting an object that was blocking the way. He also said:
We want to tell the public that we have DETAINED 4 individuals who were found with some of belongings of the baseball players, they will be handed over to the competent authorities..!
It is not clear at this time if the four individuals are suspected of having placed the object blocking the highway that forced the car to swerve, or if they are accused of having looted the bodies of the two deceased.
LVBP Draws Ire After Insensitive Comments
Juan Jose Avila, the president of the LVBP, drew the ire of the nation today after he made insensitive comments in a press conference about the deaths of Castillo and Valbuena.
During the press conference, Avila said that the two men would not have died “if they had been traveling in a bus”. Avila made the comment as he wondered why the pair–who were traveling for their work–were not using a team bus.
Jesus Guzman, who plays with the Leones del Caracas, wrote a response to Avila’s comments in his Instagram account:
The response reads:
Really, Juan Jose Avila?? Really?? Have you bothered to ask the players what state the buses are in? Have you really asked the players how often the buses break down on the road? Are you really going to make this awful statement? You’re blaming them for dying, it’s their fault that they died? What would have happened if the bus had come across that rock that was in the way, and the National Guard soldiers who guard the truck had confronted the criminals? Would that have been worse or not? I’m going to tell you something amidst all of the pain that has engulfed me, don’t be so impudent! And another thing, I’ll bet you anything that if you show up at a stadium the majority of players won’t know who you are!! That’s why I asked you those things at the beginning! Things are not as this man makes them out to be
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