There was no sign of alcohol at the scene of the car collision that took the life of Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, according to Dominican officials as reported by Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. A toxicology report will take three weeks and could provide more definitive evidence. According to Dodd:
The factors that led to the crash are still unclear, but a basic sketch emerged on Sunday afternoon. Ventura was not wearing his seat belt and was thrown from his white Jeep after losing control on a mountainous stretch of highway, Moore said. He was apparently driving through a thick fog when his tires went off the road and an overcorrection resulted in a rollover and his car resting on its side on the side of the road, according to Moore and eye-witness photographs.
Yordano Ventura of the KC Royals Custom Jeep pic.twitter.com/5DHxvTax2t— Jeep Bible (@JeepBibIe) December 16, 2016
Ventura and former MLB third baseman Andy Marte, who also died over the weekend in a separate car crash, are the fourth and fifth professional ballplayers to die in collisions in the Dominican Republic in the last year. Orioles minor leaguer Ramon Ramirez, Yankees minor leaguer Sandy Acevedo, and Astros minor leaguer Jose Rosario have all had their lives claimed recently. Ventura also lost a friend, Cardinals minor leaguer Oscar Taveras, in 2014 to a car collision in the Dominican.
The Dominican Republic was cited by the World Health Organization as the deadliest country for terms of motor vehicle-related deaths. Traffic laws tend to be loosely enforced, with inexperienced drivers. Even worse, the country is not well-equipped to deal with motor vehicle-related emergencies.
The WHO reports that the Dominican has no emergency room based surveillance system, and that many nurses are not equipped to handle emergencies.
"I always tell people that it's not a country of laws, it's a country of suggestions," said one agent who has spent a considerable amount of time in the Dominican, but who wanted to remain anonymous. "There's no safety concerns there."
The driving conditions have been serious enough that teams have warned ballplayers to take precautions.
“We’re always (cautioning our players),” Moore said. “And I’m more intentional about it, to the point where it’s probably maybe even goes in one ear and out the other. But we’re constantly saying things.”
Dominican players make up about 10% of Major League rosters, and teams frequently send minor leaguers to play in the Dominican Winter League. A number of Royals minor leaguers just returned from the Dominican Republic.
It should be noted that car collisions have also claimed the lives of ballplayers in the United States as well, including former Cardinals pitcher Ryan Hancock, and former Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart. More than 32,000 Americans die each year due to motor vehicle-related incidents.