The El Paso woman killed in a wreck along with former Chapin High and University of Maryland basketball star, Cliff Tucker, was eight months pregnant, ABC-7 has learned.
Department of Public Safety officials said the 29-year-old Tucker; 29-year-old Andrew Akaji, of Belleview, Florida; and 25-year-old Amanda Akaji of El Paso died when the van they were riding in rolled on I-10 near Balmorhea, 180 miles southeast of El Paso. Investigators believe the tread on a rear tire separated and the driver lost control of the vehicle.
Tucker's girlfriend, 29-year-old Genesis Soto was rushed to a hospital in Odessa, Texas for treatment. Tucker's 3-year-old daughter, Andrea, was airlifted to University Medical Center in El Paso. Both were critically injured, DPS said.
The driver and passenger, both using seatbelts, survived the wreck.
Tucker, a 2007 graduate of Chapin High School in El Paso, and played basketball for four seasons with the Maryland Terps.
"He was my only son," said Tucker's mother Regina, "He wanted to be close to his family so he spent most of his career in Mexico. Regina Tucker told ABC-7 her son was either going to coach or join the military when his basketball career was over. "I was convincing him to go into the military. I think he was going do it," Regina said.
Chapin High School Football Coach Rene Hernandez told ABC-7 Cliff Tucker was the "best athlete I've ever been associated with. I've had a lot of great athletes come through Chapin, but he was the best. I wouldn't go short of saying the best athlete that's come out of El Paso." Hernandez said a lot of the student athletes he coaches "remember watching (Cliff Tucker) as little kids, wanting to be him."
Karen Rivera, a friend of the Tucker and Akaji families, described the moment she learned of the deadly wreck. "My whole world collapsed in two seconds. I couldn't stop crying. I don't know what else to do. I just wanted to get to (Amanda) and make her be alive but I couldn't help anymore," Rivera said, "I just can't believe her life was so short."