Head-on crash kills local
by Lenny Roberts
The longtime Ojai softball player who managed and played for
the Oak View Outlaws for nearly two decades died Saturday morning
when his 1983 Mazda 626 was struck head-on by a 17-year-old Oak
View girl driving a white Ford Explorer. Ironically, Daniel Thomas
Fraser, 43, had left work early and planned to drive to Ventura
later in the day to attend the funeral of his best friend's grandfather.
According to the California Highway Patrol, Fraser was northbound
on Santa Ana Road at 9:30 a.m. when the driver of the other car,
whose name was not released because she is a minor and there's
an ongoing investigation, drifted over the double yellow lines.
Following the impact, Fraser's Mazda then struck a power pole
and the Explorer stopped after hitting a tree. Fraser, who was
wearing a seat belt, suffered massive head injuries, and was
pronounced dead at the scene. Because of its age, Fraser's Mazda
was not equipped with air bags.
CHP Officer Steve Reid said there was no evidence of alcohol
or drugs relating to the collision, but would not say if there
were mechanical problems with either of the vehicles prior to
"We're going to complete the investigation and evaluate
all physical evidence, and, if warranted, will forward the information
to the district attorney," Reid said. "The DA ultimately
makes that decision."
Lifelong friend Cliff Jones first met Fraser when they were five
years old. Fraser took over control of the Storer Cable Ojai
Valley Men's League Softball team in 1982, and quickly changed
the name to the Oak View Outlaws - a name that is synonymous
with summertime softball. Like Fraser, Jones has been an Oak
View Outlaw ever since.
"I have a lot of memories that go way back," Jones
began. "We were born a week and a half apart. Our moms went
to high school together."
Jones described Fraser as a ballplayer with skill at all positions,
but mostly as a talented third-baseman who took over pitching
duties in recent years.
"He was the best up-the-middle guy that ever was, and turned
more double-plays than anyone I ever knew," Jones said.
"Nothing could get by him. He had a 'what-me-worry' attitude,
and never browbeat anyone. If you browbeat anyone on our team,
When the summer softball season ended each of the last eight
years, Fraser volunteered as a Coors Ojai Labor Day Softball
Tournament director, first under the late president Richard Torres,
and most recently, working with Rick Gibson.
Jones said that Fraser had left his job as a warehouse supervisor
at McJunkin Corp. on Ventura Avenue earlier than usual to prepare
for the funeral of Jones' grandfather, and both men had been
on Santa Ana Road at the same time.
"The worst part is I drove around the corner and came on
the accident. It was like getting kicked in the stomach. I came
so close to passing him on the road. If I would have flagged
him down, it would never have happened. I couldn't have had a
better best friend, I guarantee it. He'll leave a hole that will
never be filled. Softball will still be fun, but never the same."
Jones said that the Oak View Outlaws plan to go to the funeral
wearing their softball shirts, "like we're going to the
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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