Three families from Venom Volleyball Club, traveling from Goodyear to Austin, Texas, for a national qualifying 18U girls tournament were involved in an automobile wreck Thursday night in severe winter weather conditions. The wreck left one player dead and two others in critical condition in a San Antonio hospital.
Club owner and director Jimmy Gonzalez shared the news on social media and asked for help to assist the families with medical expenses through a GoFundMe page.
As of early afternoon Saturday, more than $62,000 was raised.
AZ Volleyball Region tweeted out a link to support the families.
Gonzalez said that he has not been authorized to release the names of the players involved in the accident. They were traveling to play in the Adidas Lone Star Classic 18s nationals club qualifier this weekend. The players were either 17 or 18 years of age.
With flights being canceled do to severe weather, a group of seven rented an SUV to drive to Austin, Gonzalez said. Gonzalez said that the SUV hit a stretch of black ice between Junction and London in Texas, swerved out of control and hit a semitruck head-on.
Five in the SUV, Gonzalez said, were ejected.
Gonzalez said that one player died. Two others are in critical but stable condition and an alumni player accompanying her sister on the trip was severely injured but is stable, Gonzalez said. Two other were released from the hospital with minor injuries, Gonzalez said.
There were three parents in the SUV, two released with minor injuries and another in critical condition, Gonzalez said.
“I just want to say I’m amazed by the generosity of the public with them helping us get through these troubled times,” Gonzalez said. “It’s phenomenal. I’m filled with gratitude.
“Not just local club teams, but teams from New Mexico and Texas have reached out.”
Gonzalez said he received a call Thursday night from an out-of-state club parent also driving to the tournament that was traveling behind the SUV and stopped to render assistance and call 911. The injured were taken by helicopter to a San Antonio hospital.
“It was a difficult call to handle,” Gonzalez said. “I was grateful to this man to stop and render the help.”
This is the 12th year for Venom Volleyball, which is one of the more affordable club programs in the state. The 18U team was ranked eighth among 69 teams by the Arizona Region.
“We use volleyball as a tool to develop future leaders,” Gonzalez said. “That’s our main objective. Not volleyball.”
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