Tragedy struck again late Saturday night for the University of Miami athletics program.
The 16-year-old son of a former Miami Hurricanes baseball star and current UM pitching coach was killed in a single car crash in Southwest Miami-Dade.
Hurricanes pitching coach J.D. Arteaga’s son, Columbus High football and baseball player Ari Arteaga, died near the intersection of Southwest 87th Avenue and 64th Street. Ari’s girlfriend, passenger and Our Lady of Lourdes Academy volleyball standout Indira Rambarran, suffered “incapacitating” injuries, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
This is the second death in three days to touch the UM athletic world. Former Hurricanes running back Tyrone Moss died at the age of 33 Thursday night.
In a Facebook post, Columbus football coach Chris Merritt canceled Sunday night’s Midnight Madness celebratory start of football practice.
“We ask as a Columbus family we pray for the repose of the soul of Ari, and we pray that the Lord provide comfort, strength, and peace to Ari’s family and friends during this difficult time,’’ Merritt posted on social media.
Via Twitter, the University of Miami issued statements from athletic director Blake James and baseball coach Gino DiMare, for whom J.D. Arteaga will be associate head coach next season.
“We are all mourning the loss of Ari and are thinking of J.D., Ysha and Ariana during this difficult time,” the DiMare statement read. “Ari was a bright young man who brought joy to so many who knew him and he will be missed by all of us in the Miami baseball family.”
According to FHP, Ari, who was going into 11th grade, bumped the median with his Jeep Wrangler as he headed down Southwest 87th Avenue around 9:45 p.m. The Jeep swerved across the avenue, over the curb and the sidewalk and into a concrete utility pole, knocking out power to the neighborhood.
FHP’s accident report said both Ari and Indira were wearing seat belts. No blood alcohol or drug tests were done.
“Today was a tough day for us as a family,” Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who played at Miami and is very close to Arteaga, told reporters Sunday. “... J.D. Arteaga, the pitching coach from U of M, he’s my best friend. They adopted me, basically, when I went to Miami. What happened to Ari, I can’t even explain it. It puts everything in perspective.
“You know, we get caught up in this madness that is the pennant race and the A.L. East and the Red Sox and the Yankees, but you know what? At the end, this is just baseball. ... There’s a lot of people here that know J.D. and Ari and to go through the night and all the phone calls and everything that happened with the kid, God bless him. He’s 16. He was 16, you know? My daughter is 15. I probably had the toughest call of my life this morning just to tell her what happened. So, I’m glad we won. I’m glad we were able to play and I was able to relax, but it’s been a tough day for me. So, that’s for him.”
Added Jim Morris, the recently retired, longtime UM baseball coach who coached the elder Arteaga, a member of the UM Sports Hall of Fame, then hired him in 2003 to join his staff: “He’s an absolute clone of J.D.—a great kid, great athlete and great student. Ari grew up in our ballpark. Everyone is devastated. I don’t even know how J.D. can handle this. Ari was everything you’d want in a son.’’