A student athlete from a Christian college in Tennessee has died after being struck by an apparent hit-and-run accident in the tidewater area of Virginia.
Eli Cramer, a 20-year-old sophomore at Milligan University and a member of the school’s track and field team, died in the crash at an intersection in Lightfoot, near Williamsburg, Virginia, just after 6 p.m., according to a statement from the university.
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Seniors Alex Mortimer and Eli Baldy were also injured in the incident. The team was in the area for a track meet Friday.
Baldy, who is studying mechanical engineering, was treated and released from a local hospital, Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. Mortimer, a ministry student, underwent surgery and is now in stable condition. He broke one of his legs and dislocated a shoulder.
“I want to exhort and thank all of you all for praying for me, for the Milligan team, and for the university and institution,” Mortimer said from his hospital bed, according to the New York Post. “I want to say that moments like this make you realize what is and is not important in your life.”
“Do not forsake or discount the beauty and the gift of life,” he added. “It is like a vapor.”
Mortimer went on tell his fellow college students to “cling to the Lord Jesus Christ,” continuing, “If you do not know Him, He wants to know you. He loves you and He died for a relationship with you. And He doesn’t want us to have to spend an eternity apart from Him in hell. He loves us so dearly and He wants fellowship with us. And as tragic as this is and in just the brief moments of me being awake, I can feel God’s presence in a way I’ve never felt.”
Despite enduring such a profound tragedy, the student runner said his focus is ensuring Jesus “is glorified” in the midst of it.
Leaders at Milligan University are requesting prayer for the students and their families.
“We are incredibly shocked and saddened to share that members of our men’s cross country/track [and] field team were in an accident involving a vehicle this evening while running near Williamsburg, VA,” stated the college. “[W]e covet your prayers during this difficult time, especially for the Cramer family.”
In a statement of his own, Student Government President Chase McGlamery described the preceding 24 hours as “unimaginable” and called Cramer a “friend, classmate, and teammate.”
“Above all,” he said, “Cramer was a stranger to no one. He held a contagious energy that was integral to his team and our campus community. Like many of you, I shared classes and countless laughs with him. He was the type of person that always brightened your day. Cramer was a man who knew when to put his head down and work or when to steal the room with a sarcastic comment. Cramer was one of the best, but he never looked down on anyone. He saw people for people and loved them for who they were.“
The three victims were among five members of the Milligan team who were out for a run at the time of the deadly crash, according to the local news outlet WTKR-TV.
While the driver initially fled the scene, he was later arrested after veering into a median.
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