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LBSU track and field athlete dies in single-car crash

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LBSU track and field athlete dies in single-car crash

Long Beach State track and field athlete Cameron Gillett, center, died in a car accident Friday morning.

Long Beach State track and field athlete Cameron Gillett, center, died in a car accident Friday morning.

Courtesy of Long Beach State athletics

Long Beach State track and field athlete Cameron Gillett, center, died in a car accident Friday morning.

Courtesy of Long Beach State athletics

Courtesy of Long Beach State athletics

Long Beach State track and field athlete Cameron Gillett, center, died in a car accident Friday morning.

Amir Vafamanesh, Sports Editor

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Long Beach State track and field athlete Cameron Gillett, 21, died Friday morning after his gray 1998 Nissan Altima struck a concrete bridge abutment on a northbound 605 Freeway offramp in Long Beach.

According to California Highway Patrol reports, the crash happened about 2:15 a.m. at the East Carson Street offramp when, “For reasons unknown, Gillett allowed his vehicle to drift off the road down a dirt/grass embankment before it went airborne and crashed into the bridge.” Gillett died at the scene and was pronounced dead at 2:51 a.m.

The CHP also reported that drugs and/or alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the collision and the investigation is ongoing.

According to news reports, Gillett fell asleep behind the steering wheel. 

The Long Beach State athletic department said Gillett had been on his way home from campus when the incident occurred.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Cameron,” LBSU athletic director Vic Cegles said in a release. “He was an outstanding young man who was admired by his teammates and fellow student-athletes. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.”

Gillett, a junior economics major and native of Norwalk, Calif., graduated from La Mirada High School where he was a California state long jump champion in 2008 and became the first inductee into the school’s track and field hall of fame, news reports said.

“News of this morning’s event is very painful to accept,” LBSU head coach Andy Sythe said in a release. “Our thoughts and prayers go out immediately to his family and to our student-athletes at the University who deeply cared for Cameron. Something like this is a loss that all of us feel and will be deeply affected by.”

Sythe added: “Cameron was a terrific young man with an unforgettable smile. He had a great attitude and love for his teammates.”

Gillett recently helped LBSU claim its fourth consecutive Big West Conference Challenge Cup victory on April 8 in Irvine when he took first place in the long jump event with a distance of 22 feet-7 3/4-inches and clocked in a season-best with a time of 48.35 seconds in the 400-meter run.

In 2010, Gillett placed sixth overall in the long jump event at the Big West Championships with a distance of 23 feet-5 1/2-inches.

“It is a great tragedy when the life of a university student is lost,” Cal State Long Beach President F. King Alexander said in a release. “Cameron Gillett represented Long Beach State proudly as an athlete, and was a student who showed great promise in his chosen major of economics.”

Alexander added: “We understand that words are never enough in times like this as we offer our sincere condolences to Cameron’s family, teammates and friends. He will be dearly missed.” 

Gillett is survived by his mother Eileen Neal, stepfather Wilbert Saunders and brothers Connor Gillett and Nathan Saunders.

Funeral services for Gillett will be held at Zoe Christian Fellowship Church in Whittier, Calif. on Friday at 1 p.m.


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