A three-time Olympian and former NCAA champion at Texas A&M died on Monday in a head on collision with another vehicle in Texas, authorities said. Deon Lendore, 29, a bronze medal-winning sprinter for Trinidad & Tobago, died after his car drifted across the center line sideswiped a vehicle and then collided with an SUV, police said.
Lendore died on the scene. The driver of the SUV, a 65-year-old woman, was taken to a hospital with serious injuries, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman said. Lendore untimely death is being mourned by the entire sports fraternity.
Gone too Soon
Lendore was killed almost instantly after his car, which was on high speed crossed the center lane of a Texas highway and hit another car on its side before colliding with an SUV, according to Sgt. Bryan Washko, a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman.
The athlete was returning home from practice at Texas A&M, where he was a volunteer assistant coach at the time of the accident. The driver of the vehicle, sideswiped by Lendore before the collision, was not injured. However, the woman driver in the other car suffered severe injuries.
Police have launched an investigation into the crash and is trying to ascertain who was at fault. However, they don't see any foul play as of now.
News of Lendore's death has left the sporting fraternity in shock, with tributes pouring in from all corners. "He epitomized hope and joy each time his feet landed on the track," Trinidad Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe said.
"He was indeed a trailblazer, a life gone too soon. We thank him for everything he has done and for giving distinguished and diligent service to TT," he added.
Short but illustrious Career
Lendore was a three-time Olympian from Trinidad and Tobago, and participated in the past three summer Games. He won a bronze medal in 2012, anchoring the island nation's 4x400-meter relay in London. That relay team finished eighth at the Tokyo Olympics last summer.
Lendore went undefeated through 14 races at 400 meters in 2014, while winning individual NCAA indoor and outdoor championships with Texas A&M. However, with age his form was somewhat deteriorating.
For the past two years he was working as a volunteer assistant at Texas A&M while he continued to compete professionally. "I can't even express this loss," Texas A&M coach Pat Henry said.
"Over the years our relationship had changed to not only one of my athletes to coach, but he was loved by my wife, children and grandchildren. He was part of my family. It hurts, it really hurts."
Jasper Gray, Lendore's girlfriend and an Arizona runner, also grieved his death. She took to Twitter to share that she felt broken hearted at the thought of never being able to cheer for him at a competition again.