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Boat Crash Kills Olin of Indians : Baseball: Former Dodgers Crews, Ojeda injured in high-speed wreck on lake in central Florida, near Cleveland’s spring training base.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A boating accident Monday night on their only scheduled day off during spring training killed Cleveland Indian pitcher Steve Olin and seriously injured teammates Tim Crews and Bob Ojeda, both former Dodgers.

Olin, 27, died instantly when an 18-foot open-air bass boat in which he was riding ran head-high into a new dock extending some 220-250 feet into Little Lake Nellie from a private home near Tavares, Fla., according to officer Susan Mock of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department at Clermont, Fla.

The boat, equipped with a 150-horsepower engine capable of powering it at speeds up to 50 m.p.h., apparently was traveling at a high rate of speed in the dark.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Jetta Heinrich, who owns the dock, heard the boat strike it and called the Lake County Sheriff’s Office at 7:52 p.m.

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Heinrich said she had just stepped from the shower when she heard a thud. She added that she knew something was wrong because she had heard the boat’s motor earlier.

Heinrich rushed outside with her cordless phone, saw the boat and shouted to the boaters.

“I kept screaming. I kept screaming, but they wouldn’t answer,” she told the paper.

When paramedics arrived, they found all three men unconscious.

Paramedics said that Ojeda, a passenger, was found covered in blood and drifting in and out of consciousness.

Lt. Vinard Hitt, regional public affairs officer for the Florida Fish and Game Commission, said neither the boat nor the dock was seriously damaged, and that the boat had its running lights on at the time. He noted that most of the injuries seemed to be at head level.

“It was dark and apparently they didn’t see the dock,” Mock added.

The lake is about 25 minutes from Winter Haven, Fla., the Indians’ spring training home for this season only.

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Crews, 31, a right-handed reliever who pitched the past five seasons for the Dodgers before signing with the Indians as a free agent this winter, has a home on Little Lake Nellie and apparently had invited Olin and Ojeda for a day of fishing and boat riding.

Crews sustained an injured lung and a “very serious head injury,” said Joe Brown, a spokesman at Orlando Regional Medical Center. He is in the intensive care unit.

No surgery was planned for Crews until his condition could be stabilized, Brown said.

With the Dodgers last season, Crews was 0-3 with a 5.19 earned-run average in 49 games.

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Ojeda, 35, a left-handed starter who had pitched two seasons for the Dodgers before signing with the Indians as a free agent this winter, had surgery for head lacerations and was expected to make a full recovery. He is in stable but serious condition in the intensive care unit of South Lake Memorial Hospital in Clermont.

He was 6-9 for the Dodgers last season with a 3.63 earned-run average.

Ojeda was expected to be in the starting rotation, and Crews was a strong candidate for a bullpen job.

Ojeda is familiar with the area, having trained in Winter Haven for many seasons with the Boston Red Sox.

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Laurie Crews, wife of Tim Crews, told the Loraine (Ohio) Journal that the players had been relaxing much of the day.

“They just had the day off and we had a barbecue at home,” she said, adding that after the barbecue the three had gone fishing.

“They wanted to see Tim’s boat. Boys will be boys, and things don’t always turn out the way they are supposed to.”

She said she and her husband had moved to the area about four weeks ago for the start of spring training.

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Investigators were unsure if alcohol was a factor in the accident.

“They did have a picnic cooler on the boat, but it’s not clear yet if they had been drinking much,” Mock said.

Blood tests will be given Crews and Ojeda, and an autopsy will be made on Olin, routine procedures in boating accidents.

It was unclear who was driving the boat.

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Olin, selected in the 16th round of the 1987 amateur draft, is third on the Indians’ all-time save list with 48.

Last season, he led the Indians with 29 saves and was 8-5 with a 2.34 earned-run average.

In 48 games in 1991, he had 17 saves. He joined the Indians in 1989 and was 1-4.

Olin is the first active major leaguer to be killed in an accident since catcher Thurman Munson of the New York Yankees died in a 1979 plane crash at the Akron-Canton, Ohio, airport.

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Olin is survived by his wife Patti and three children, Alexa, 3, and twins Garrett and Kaylee, 6 months.

“Steve was one of our own,” said Bob DiBiasio, vice president of public relations for the Indians. “We grew very close to him and his family. This is very tragic.”

Cleveland, which had trained in Tucson for decades, moved its spring operations to Winter Haven this spring because its planned base at Homestead, Fla., was devastated by Hurricane Andrew.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Fatal Accidents Involving Baseball Players A partial list of major league baseball players who died in accidents during their careers: Player: Steve Olin Team: Cleveland Indians Position: Pitcher Date of Death: March 22, 1993 How Died: Boat crash Player: Thurman Munson Team: New York Yankees Position: Catcher Date of Death: Aug. 2, 1979 How Died: Plane crash Player: Lyman Bostock Team: California Angels Position: Outfielder Date of Death: Sept. 23, 1978 How Died: Shooting Player: Danny Frisella Team: Milwaukee Brewers Position: Pitcher Date of Death: Jan. 1, 1977 How Died: Dune buggy accident Player: Mike Miley Team: California Angels Position: Shortstop Date of Death: Jan. 5, 1977 How Died: Auto accident Player: Bob Moose Team: Pittsburgh Pirates Position: Pitcher Date of Death: Oct. 9, 1976 How Died: Auto accident Player: Roberto Clemente Team: Pittsburgh Pirates Position: Outfielder Date of Death: Dec. 31, 1972 How Died: Plane crash Player: Ken Hubbs Team: Chicago Cubs Position: 2nd baseman Date of Death: Feb. 15, 1964 How Died: Plane crash Player: Charlie Peete Team: St. Louis Cardinals Position: Outfielder Date of Death: Nov. 27, 1956 How Died: Plane crash Player: Tom Gastall Team: Baltimore Orioles Position: Catcher Date of Death: Sept. 20, 1956 How Died: Plane crash Player: Norman Boeckel Team: Boston Braves Position: 3rd baseman Date of Death: Feb. 15, 1924 How Died: Auto accident Player: Walter Lerian Team: Philadelphia Phillies Position: Catcher Date of Death: Oct. 22, 1929 How Died: Auto accident Player: Marvin Goodwin Team: Cincinnati Reds Position: Pitcher Date of Death: Oct. 18, 1925 How Died: Plane crash Player: Ray Chapman Team: Cleveland Indians Position: Shortstop Date of Death: Aug. 16, 1920 How Died: Killed by pitched ball


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