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Sometimes our problems seem minor

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When you think things are going bad


sometimes something happens that brings you back to reality!


Jamar's former HS Team was in a tragic accident yesterday.


My prayers go out to all those involved and to Jamar who still has strong ties to the School, the team the Coach and his family.




Van Carrying LI Team Crashes; 1 Dead, 8 Hurt





By Stephanie McCrummen

Staff Writer


January 1, 2004, 1:19 AM EST



An 18-year-old exchange student from Our Savior New American School in Centereach was killed and eight other members and supporters of the school's basketball team injured, some seriously, when a van carrying them crashed off a rural stretch of North Carolina highway yesterday afternoon, officials said.


The team of varsity and junior varsity players and their supporters were traveling in two vans from a tournament in Delaware to another tournament in Charlotte when one of the vans veered off the road, flipped several times and struck a maple tree, according to North Carolina state troopers.


Most of the passengers were flung out on the grass and a trooper said rescue workers had to use the Jaws of Life to extricate the player who died. He was 7 feet, 4 inches tall, an exchange student from Paris whose name was not released yesterday.


Trooper R.G. Willis said the van was driven by Emily Elizabeth Stelzer, 22, of Centereach, who is the daughter of the school's pastor, Ron Stelzer, who is also the basketball coach.


His son was among the players seriously injured and was in surgery last night. The injured also reportedly included three other of the coach's children, two other students from France and a teenager from West Africa. The ages of the injured ranged from 12 to 24, troopers said.


According to Willis, Emily Stelzer was driving the white Ford school van westbound along two-lane Highway 150, just outside Salisbury, headed for the Dell Curry High School Basketball Shootout in Charlotte, about 4:30 p.m.


Willis said she lost control of it. He said she veered to the right, then overcorrected, veering back to the left, then back to the right again, off the highway and into the tree.


Along with the injured players, Emily Stelzer, who escaped with cuts and scrapes, was taken to Rowan Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, where she was arrested, charged with driving left of center and death by vehicle, both misdemeanors. Willis said these are routine charges in such accidents. Stelzer was taken before a magistrate and later allowed to rejoin the group.


"She was in shock," Willis said. "She was crying ... pretty much hysterical."


Among the others hurt, injuries ranged from minor scrapes to more serious ones that required the players be airlifted to North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem. Their conditions were not available last night.


As parents flew to North Carolina last evening, a local Catholic church offered to take in the players for the night. With the new year approaching in Centereach last night, about 50 friends and neighbors gathered for prayers in the sanctuary at the private Lutheran school on a night when the usual crowd would number about 10.


"They're just concerned people," said John Allen, a church elder. "It's a very tight knit group here that supports our pastor. We all came in and prayed and held each other. We just held each other."


Staff writer Bill Mason and The Charlotte Observer contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc. | Article licensing and reprint options

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