A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper said he doesn’t believe drugs or alcohol were involved in former University of New Mexico basketball player A.J. Hardeman’s weekend automobile crash that killed 23-year-old Adrianna Gatt of Albuquerque.
Also on Tuesday, friends of Gatt said a candle and vigil service is planned for Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. at Albuquerque’s Roosevelt Park to help raise money for Gatt’s 3-year-daughter.
Gatt attended Santa Fe and Cibola high schools as well as UNM.
Trooper Scotty Prater said he filed his fatality report Tuesday. He said Hardeman, who played for the Lobos from 2008-2012, fell asleep at the wheel while driving from Albuquerque to San Antonio, Texas, along with Gatt and his 2-year-old daughter, Ophelia Hardeman.
Prater said Hardeman was heading to San Antonio to visit family when his 2005 Cadillac Escalade swerved off the road, collided with a guard rail and rolled onto its side around 4:15 a.m. on Saturday just outside of Ozona, Texas.
Gatt was pronounced dead at the scene while both Hardeman and Ophelia were taken to a hospital in San Angelo and released.
“They had been driving all day and all night, so his story made sense,” said Prater, who added that his investigation is finished. “I didn’t smell alcohol and I talked to him. … We can’t get a blood test on every single wreck. Sheriff deputies were on the scene when I got there, and (Hardeman) and the child were already in the ambulance.
“What happened is the driver fell asleep and swerved off the road.”
Both Hardeman’s and Gatt’s Facebook pages said they had been in a relationship since December.
Prater said he believes Gatt was asleep in the front seat and was not wearing a seat belt. He said her body was under the vehicle when he arrived.
He said he believes Hardeman had his seat belt on, and that Ophelia was buckled into a child’s seat in the back seat.
“We believe they were both asleep at the time of the crash,” Prater said of the passengers.
On Tuesday, Albuquerque’s Bri-Ana Jacobs-Ebia called Gatt “my best friend … She was very motivating, very inspirational. She was Miss Teen New Mexico and was very hellbent on helping anyone around her. She loved to laugh and was always very positive.
“… She was always there for everybody else, despite anything else she might be going through. She loved her daughter very much. Her daughter was her strength and her reason to keep pushing forward.”
Jacobs-Ebia said she met Gatt while both worked as models.
Anthony Freeman said Gatt “was a very genuine young woman with an exceptional kind heart,” and that she was a volunteer for the Who I Am Foundation last summer. He is chief operations officer of the nonprofit business.
“She always went above and beyond to help others. She always had a positive vibe to her,” Freeman said. “The foundation sends volunteers out to the streets of Albuquerque, and passes out clothing, hygiene packets, blankets and things like that.”
He said the last time he spoke with Gatt “was probably about a month ago, when we shot a commercial together.” He is also chief executive officer for DoinIIMuch Entertainment Group, LLC., which did the commercial.
He said Gatt also lived and worked briefly in Las Vegas, Nev., recently.
Freeman said Gatt’s daughter is named Charlotte Pearl Swanson.
“We had a lot of projects planned,” Freeman said of Gatt. “… Adrianna was a great person.”