Courts & Crime

One killed, others hurt when car strikes group of college runners

A 20-year-old college runner in town for a track meet died, and several of his teammates were injured, when a car struck the group Thursday evening in York County.

The incident, which involved members of the Milligan University cross country and track and field teams, happened just after 6 p.m., state police said.


Police say five members of the university’s cross country/track and field team were running on Williamsburg Pottery Road near the intersection with Lightfoot Road when they were struck by a red, two-door sedan.

All five runners were taken to Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. Eli Cramer, 20, died of his injuries at the hospital. Another athlete, 21-year-old Alex Mortimer, suffered serious injuries, police said. Runner Eli Baldy also was injured.


“We are incredibly heartbroken by this tragedy,” Milligan’s athletic director, Christian Pope, said Friday. “I have spoken with coach Chris Layne, head coach for this team, several times in the past 14 hours. he is absolutely devastated. The team is completely distraught.”

Virginia State Police said the driver, Jose Efrain Hernandez Mancia, fled the scene, continued down the road and proceeded to get onto Route 199, where he then crashed the vehicle into the median. Mancia then exited the vehicle, and a bystander who had stopped, rendered aid.

Mancia, 26, who lives in the 4000 block of Governors Square, Williamsburg, was found to be intoxicated and was placed under arrest for driving under the influence, police said. He was also charged with involuntary manslaughter, maiming, hit and run as a felony and reckless driving.

Mancia’s first court appearance will likely be Monday, said York County Commonwealth’s Attorney Krystyn Reid.

Cramer, from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, was a sophomore at Milligan, while Mortimer and Baldy were seniors, according to the Johnson City, Tennessee, university. Mortimer was out of surgery and in stable condition, the university said late Thursday. Baldy was treated and released.

“Eli Cramer was our friend, classmate and teammate,” wrote Milligan’s student government president, Chase McGlamery, on the university’s website. “We are one family at Milligan and now a part of us is forever missing.”

Mortimer, from a hospital bed, appeared in a video on the university’s Facebook page. He said the worst of his injuries were a broken leg and dislocated shoulder, but offered words of thanks and encouragement to the university community.

“Thank you every single one of you that’s praying for this team,” Mortimer said.


The university describes itself as “a premier Christian liberal arts institution” and in 2020 had an enrollment of 1,347 students.

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The Colonial Relays, a track meet that attracts dozens of teams from as far away as New Hampshire, are scheduled for this weekend in Williamsburg. Other schools that were to compete: Christopher Newport, VCU, Norfolk State, James Madison, Delaware, George Washington, Howard and more.

The meet began Friday morning with a moment of silence.

“Given the dramatic nature of events and how recently they have transpired, we are allowing those most directly involved the time and space to process the tragedy,” William & Mary Associate Athletics Director Pete Clawson said in an email.

Milligan University said it was providing support and assistance to help its team return to campus. Classes there were canceled Friday.

Staff writers Dave Ress and Sian Wilkerson contributed to this story.