As details of the car accident that killed Oscar Taveras and a female companion begin to emerge, a gruesome photo of his body in the morgue has been circulating through social media.
Taveras, one of baseball’s elite prospects, and 18-year-old Ydelia Arvelos perished in a crash Sunday evening outside Puerto Plata, a northern city in the Dominican Republic that was the birthplace of the St. Louis Cardinals outfielder.
Taveras, 22, lost control of his Chevy Camaro coming off a curve and slammed against a tree, according to Lieutenant Colonel Jose Armando Brito, spokesman for the branch of the national police that covers Puerto Plata.
The police report said Taveras and Arvelos died of multiple trauma while receiving medical attention at the hospital.
The roads were wet due to recent rains, said Brito, who couldn’t confirm whether speeding or alcohol were factors in the accident. However, the Associated Press reported that Taveras was driving at “very high speed,” quoting spokesman Diego Pesqueira of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
While the baseball world mourned the tragic loss of a player with an apparently bright future – Taveras drew comparisons to a young Vladimir Guerrero – a graphic picture showing his mangled face and bruised upper body made the rounds in social media.
Among others, the photo was tweeted by Cardinals pitcher and fellow Dominican Carlos Martinez with a message in Spanish that translates to, “Brother, why did you leave? Tell me why.”
The tweet was later deleted.
Brito said in instances like this, where a well-known figure has died in the Dominican Republic, graphic reporters will go to the hospital and try to take photos of the body.
“It’s common here for those kind of photos to circulate without any kind of objections,” Brito said in Spanish. “If they were suppressed, people would claim their freedoms are being abridged. They’re not aware of the psychological impact these photos could have on the relatives and on people who shouldn’t see these kind of things. It’s very impactful.”
Several players, especially Dominican countrymen, have expressed their sorrow through social and traditional media over the passing of Taveras, whose funeral is scheduled for Tuesday.
Outfielder Juan Perez, one of the key figures in the San Francisco Giants’ 5-0 victory in Sunday’s Game 5 of the World Series, cried when he learned during the game that his friend and former winter ball teammate had died. He later told news reporters the road where Taveras was driving is often slippery.
“He was a humble person, happy, always smiling, great ballplayer, always smiling,” Perez said. “A lot of talent in that body.”
Hall of Famer Juan Marichal, a Spanish-language analyst during the World Series, said he learned the news while in the TV booth.
“It’s really lamentable,” he said. “He was such a young man with an incredible future.”
On Monday, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny shared his thoughts about the tragic development after begging off Sunday because he was too overcome with emotion.
“To say this is a horrible loss of a life ended too soon would be an understatement,” Matheny said in a statement released by the Cardinals. “To talk about the potential of his abilities seemed to be untimely. All I wanted to do was get the guys together and be with our baseball family. I know the hurt that comes along with buying into the brotherhood of a baseball team. That hurt is just as powerful as the joys that come with this life. …
“We loved Oscar, and he loved us. That is what a team does, that is what a family does. You will be missed, Oscar.”