The crash happened south of Goldsby in McClain County. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says a traveling baseball team was heading north along I-35 when their vehicle crashed and rolled over, killing the driver who was just 18 years old.
“Anytime there’s a fatal accident, it’s terrible, but especially when juveniles are involved,” said Trooper Eric Foster, Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Debris is still scattered on the stretch of I-35 after a van carrying five teenage baseball players rolled over, killing 18-year-old Gabriel Williams and injuring four others.
His coach tells us the team was headed home from Panama City, Florida after winning a baseball tournament.
But shortly after 3 a.m., Williams, who was behind the wheel, somehow lost control of the vehicle– rolling three times before landing in a ditch.
“When deputies got there, they notified us that there was one possibly pinned. As troopers got there, we verified that one occupant, the driver, was deceased. There were four other occupants besides the driver inside a 15-passenger van that rolled off of the roadway,” Foster said.
Troopers believe Williams may have been tired.
“We’re assuming that that is what’s going on. He was driving for quite a while and it was early in the morning,” Foster said.
Two of those passengers were rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
OHP says three of the passengers weren’t wearing seatbelts, all three of those ejected.
“There was one passenger besides the driver that had their seatbelt on. That passenger that had a seatbelt on was treated and released with minor injuries, and that’s really the statement of the seatbelt. When you get in a crash like that, you don’t have your seatbelt on, you get ejected from the vehicle and that’s where it becomes dangerous,” Foster said.
KFOR spoke with the team’s coach, Randy Newton. He said the boys are more than a number. And he thought the tournament was a great way to show the players’ talents to college scouts.
And they did, going 5 and 0, winning the championship in the 10th inning.
One of Williams’ teammates who wasn’t in the van shared this with News 4, saying, “I could tell he loved the game. He was such a nice kid and very determined on the field. As a teammate, he always got the job done and wasn’t selfish. Always had a smile no matter how something turned out.”
OHP says they are continuing to investigate how a tragedy like this could happen.
“We will continue to investigate where they’re coming from, where they were going. You know how long they’ve been driving all of those different things we’ll be investigating,” Foster said.
We’re told the van was among a caravan of others who were at the tournament, including the coach.
Moore Public Schools confirmed three of the players are Moore High School seniors. The coach tells us Williams was one of them.
Moore schools sent KFOR the following statement:
Moore Public Schools was deeply saddened to learn today that three of our Moore High School seniors were involved in an early-morning vehicle accident that resulted in one death. Our hearts grieve with the family, and we surround them with our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
The incident did not happen on MPS property, during school hours, nor was it related to a school-sponsored event; however, we know that tragedies like this weigh heavy on the hearts and minds of our students, faculty and staff. We will have an increased level of counseling services available this week at MHS for students and staff as they process this loss.Anna Aguilar, Moore Public Schools Director of Communications & Community Relations
A GoFundMe has been set up to help the Williams family pay for Gabriel’s funeral.