Baseball player killed in motorcycle crash

By Mike Vaught

Western Courier, Western Illinois U. via UWIRE

Western Illinois U. pitcher Devin VanBrooker was killed in a motorcycle accident late Tuesday night when his motorcycle collided with an SUV. He was pronounced dead at 11:50 p.m.

The SUV was driven by Macomb resident Shameka Beard-McAllister. According to police reports, she was making a left turnand turned in front of VanBrooker..

Whitley Klingler, who was riding with VanBrooker, suffered a broken arm and a broken leg in the accident. Klingler, 20, and also a WIU student was airlifted to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where she underwent surgery on Wednesday morning.

Police stated that Klingler was wearing VanBrooker’s helmet at the time of the accident, and she was listed as being in serious condition.

The native of Plymouth, Illinois and College of Lake County graduate signed with Western last summer and had a 3-4 record in nine starts this season to go along with an 8.07 ERA. His 40 strikeouts and 54 and two-thirds innings pitched were the most among pitchers on the Western staff.

“Devin’s passing is a shocking, tragic loss. He was not only a standout pitcher, but a great teammate as well. I only knew Devin for a few short months, but I am honored to have had the opportunity to coach him and get to know him as a person,” said Western Illinois head baseball coach Mike Villano. “We want to extend our thoughts and prayers to the VanBrooker family in their time of grief.”

VanBrooker’s first start with the ‘Necks was a series-clinching victory against Furman. He got his second win is his next outing, when he pitched five strong innings against Stephen F. Austin in the Sooner Classic.

Earlier this season, VanBrooker led the ‘Necks to a 6-3 victory over North Dakota State for his third win of the season. In the contest, he pitched a career high seven and two-thirds innings, striking out seven while giving up three runs.

The ‘Necks had been scheduled to face Bradley on Wednesday, but the game was cancelled after Villano spoke with the head coach from Bradley.

“Western Illinois’ athletic department has lost so much this year,” said Bradley head coach Elvis Dominguez, “having lost their former coach, Stan Hyman. Our prayers are with them.”

This weekend’s series at Centenary has also been cancelled and athletic director Dr. Tim Van Alstine stated that make-up dates for the series are still pending.

“Devin was an outstanding young man. He may have only been with us a short while, but Devin made an immediate impact on our baseball team. He was going to be a key player as Coach Villano works to rebuild our baseball program,” said Van Alstine.

A funeral service for VanBrooker is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Saturday at Southeastern High School in Augusta where he was an all-state pitcher during his senior year. Visitation services will be held from 4-8 p.m. at Southeastern, and VanBrooker’s family has asked that donations be made to the Western baseball team instead of flowers.

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