Soccer player from Downey killed in car wreck

DOWNEY - Carlos Ornelas, a 2009 graduate of Warren High School, was among two people killed Saturday in a single-vehicle traffic collision on a Utah highway.Also killed was 20-year-old Eddie Valencia. Briant Reyes, a graduate of Downey High School, escaped serious injuries. The three men were traveling to Kansas Wesleyan University, where they were set to attend school on soccer scholarships. The trio previously played together on the Cerritos College soccer team. They were traveling on Interstate 70 near Green River, Utah, when their pickup truck collided with the center median, media outlets in Utah and Colorado reported. Ornelas and Valencia died at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo. Reyes was released from a hospital Saturday with minor injuries. Authorities have not said what caused the collision but believe driver fatigue may have played a factor. Downey Brewing Company held a fundraiser Monday to help pay for funeral expenses. Valencia finished his career at Cerritos College with 11 goals and two assists, earning a place on the first-team All-South Coast Conference his sophomore year. He worked in the Liberty Soccer League as a referee. "Our prayers and thoughts are with the families of Eddie and Carlos," said Rafael Mendoza, president of the Liberty Soccer League. "We are so sad to hear of this tragic accident... As news came of this tragedy we held a moment of silence before our last game this Sunday to honor both of these extraordinary people." Mendoza said the league will conduct fundraisers in the coming weeks to help the families of both players. "To both of the affected families, we want to let you know that you are in our prayers through these difficult times and our hearts are with you," he added. "We are devastated by the deaths of Carlos and Eddie. Our heartfelt love and condolences go out to the grieving families and friends," Kansas Wesleyan president Fletcher Lamkin said. "To see their lives snuffed out so prematurely is tragic. They lost their opportunity to fulfill their potential. It also causes us to reflect on the potential of our own lives and rededicate ourselves leading good, successful, and significant lives, where we indeed serve others and make this a better world." Friends of the victims have created a Facebook page to share memories. The page is titled "R.I.P. Eddie Valencia & Carlos Ornelas." Chase Bank has opened an account to assist the families with funeral expenses. Donations can be made to account No. 303659315.

********** Published: August 18, 2011 - Volume 10 - Issue 18