In t-shirts with the surname Ventura on their backs, about two dozen children gathered in a house on the outskirts of the coastal town of La Terrenas on Monday to say good bye their idol star Yordano Ventura, starter of the Kansas City Royals who died in a tragic road accident.
“It hurt a lot because he was a great player,” said Yonfer Ventura, 11, a nephew of Yordano and a member of the Kelly Children’s League – where the Major League pitcher also emerged.
Children’s league players came to Ventura’s house to pay a tibute to the pitcher, who was his example and aspiration.
Whenever he was in the country, Ventura would meet with the children’s team, practice with them and make gifts like the shirts of the uniform, said Silvano Santos, director of the set, The Associated Press.
“It was an inspiration for every child,” said Santos, who was Ventura’s coach from age seven to 14.
The municipality of Las Terrenas, a tourist town in the northeast of the Dominican Republic, declared two days of mourning for the death Ventura, who died at the age of 25 on Sunday morning in a road accident near the town of Juan Adrián, About 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) north of Santo Domingo. The player had come to that mountainous area to attend the patron saint festivities, according to Santos.
Authorities had not submitted the investigation report on Monday to determine the causes of the accident. Ventura was traveling alone in a Jeep that he had imported last October from Florida, United States, where he had made some modifications.
“He was intense and always very cheerful,” said Angela Martinez, mother of Ventura’s only daughter – a three-year-old girl. Martinez arrived in La Terrenas on Sunday from his home in Florida only hours after learning of his former partner’s death online.
Diego Pesqueira, a spokesman for the metropolitan transport authority, said Sunday that the institution was investigating the circumstances of the accident. He explained to the AP that in the area there were no rains during the early morning and recalled that in that area is frequent fog and “more at 4:30 in the morning”, when the accident occurred.
He said that although the investigation report will be released in the coming days, the four tires of the vehicle were in good condition and the experts consider that the accident was due to the speeding.
However, Angela Martinez stressed on Monday that Ventura did not use to drive at high speed, since he had been very impacted by the death of his compatriot Oscar Taveras, a gardener of the San Luis Cardinals, in another road accident in late 2014.
“I always told him to be careful,” he said.
While dozens of residents of Las Terrenas were coming to Ventura’s house, the mother of the player was comforted by her other son, Junior, in front of the coffin located in the center of the house that the player acquired after signing his contract with the Royals .
Ventura made his major league debut with Kansas City in 2013.
Ventura’s relatives were expecting members of the Royals’ board to attend the funeral on Monday before a funeral scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
With 29.3 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, the Dominican Republic has the highest death rate in road accidents in the Americas, according to a study released in late 2015 by the World Health Organization (WHO). The figure had declined since 2013, with 41.7 deaths occupying the second highest rate in the world.