Former University of New Mexico basketball player Clinton (A.J.) Hardeman was involved in a car crash in the wee hours of Saturday morning that left a 23-year-old Albuquerque woman dead.
A Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman told the Journal that, Hardeman, who is from Del Valle, Texas, was driving a 2005 Cadillac Escalade east on Interstate 10 near mile marker 372 outside of Ozona, Texas, when he fell asleep, swerved off the road and collided with a guard rail around 4:15 a.m.
The vehicle rolled onto its side and stopped. Passenger Adrianna Gatt of Albuquerque was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:10 a.m., and her body was taken to Kerbow Funeral Home in Ozona.
Hardeman and his 2-year-old daughter, Ophelia Hardeman, who was also in the vehicle, were transported to Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo where they were treated and released.
“I talked to him early this morning after the crash and continue to communicate with him,” UNM coach Craig Neal texted the Journal on Monday afternoon. “… don’t know details, just know there was a fatality and just trying to make sure he is ok and be there for him.
“(It’s) a very sad deal and he is upset.”
Neal said that Gatt is not Ophelia’s mother.
Gatt’s Facebook page said she was self-employed and was from Santa Fe but now lives in Albuquerque. It listed her as having attended Santa Fe and Cibola high schools and UNM. She posted that she’s been in a relationship with Hardeman since Dec. 22.
Hardeman, 25, played for the Lobos from 2008-12. He averaged 5.4 points and 3.9 rebounds a game for his career, and was a starter in 96 of 137 games. He started all 35 games during his sophomore and senior seasons.
“The only thing I really know about it is from the article (in the Odessa American),” Hardeman’s former Lobo teammate Daniel Faris told the Journal on Monday from Lebanon, where he is playing professional basketball. “I texted A.J. and he texted me back that he’s OK; just obviously stressed with all that just happened.”
During Neal’s pre-practice newsconference on Monday, he said “It’s been a long day. It’s not been a fun day. We’ve got a family member that’s going through a lot. I feel bad for, my sympathies go out to her family. I don’t know her, but it’s just a bad situation. AJ’s in a tough spot. He’s really down and we’re just trying to help him anyway we can.
“Again, our sympathies go out to her family, that’s the most important thing. Hopefully he’ll get back here as soon as he can and we’ll help him out however he can.”
A spokesman for the UNM sports information department said he didn’t know if Hardeman was playing pro ball or where he was living. On Sunday, Hardeman posted on his Facebook page that he now works at Albuquerque Academy.