BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Former Immanuel High and Fresno City College pitcher Jason “JJ” Sanchez died Monday morning when the car he was driving veered off Highway 99 and hit a tree in Bakersfield.
“He was driving and veered off the road on the morning of the 20th (of December) on his way to work from our house,” wrote Sanchez’s sister Aiyanna in a message to yourcentralvalley.com on Tuesday night. “We aren’t sure exactly why yet, but he hit a tree. His truck was totaled and he died on impact. My other brother (Ernesto) suffered major injuries and just got out of surgery. He (Ernesto) said he woke up and tried to wake my brother, but he had already passed and wouldn’t wake up.”
The California Highway Patrol said Sanchez was driving a 2010 Chevy Avalanche “at a high rate of speed” in the fast lane when the pickup veered to the right and off the roadway, hitting a tree.
After going to high school at Immanuel in Reedley, Sanchez was a pitcher at Fresno City for a couple of years, and earned a scholarship to Westcliff University, a small private college in Irvine.
He was getting ready to play his final season of baseball at Westcliff, where he had been named a captain.
In a story published on Westcliff University’s website, the school’s Associate Dean of Athletics called JJ “a great person, an outstanding leader, and an exceptional teammate to everyone that graced his presence.”
On the Twitter account for Fresno City College baseball, Sanchez’s former coaches also reacted to the tragic news.
Longtime Rams head coach Ron Scott, said “JJ was the ultimate team player and was one of the finest young men that I’ve had the pleasure to coach. My heart goes out to his family. May he rest in Peace!”
And Sanchez’s former pitching coach at Fresno City, Eric Solberg, wrote “JJ was the perfect guy to coach. A great teammate and incredibly hard working player. Everyone loved him! It is hard to fathom he is gone from this life.”
A gofundme has been established to “show love and support to the family he left behind.”
The GoFundMe campaign also hopes to put “extra money towards a scholarship fund in JJ’s honor at each school he attended, so we can help student-athletes who may be in need, and keep his legacy living on.”
As of 1:06 a.m. Tuesday morning, the GoFundMe campaign had already raised $14,375 towards its $40,000 goal.