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I am the father of the one of the people Travis hit.
Because of Travis last actions he caused a 22
Christian year old girl to burn to death, the good
samaritains who stopped to pull the other out couldn't
get to her in time. My son was in a coma for 9 days
and may have brain damage. I realize the people of
Eustis honor Travis for his past sports actions. But his
last act on this earth ruined 4 lives forever. Travis's last
act was to run head on into a truck with 4 adults at 85
miles an hour. He was drunk and driving on the wrong
side of the road. If you want to honor Travis hug your
son and teach him about the dangers of drinking and
driving. Thank You Robert W Griesse the father of
Paul Griesse the one who owned the other truck.
Travis Rios was released by the Red Sox because he was considered an
incorrigible drunk and drug user. He had been arrested several times, and
at least once for drunk driving and once for drug possession. Each time he
was given a pass because he was a baseball player. Finally, and
unfortunately, the Dodge Ram did not give him a pass.
The night of this accident, Rios forced several other vehicles off the road
before crashing head-on and killing Erin Blake.
2 Dead, 3 Hurt in Fiery Beachline Wreck
FROM: Florida Today (April 15th) ~
By Jeff Schweers
Two Brevard County residents are dead and three
others hospitalized following a fiery head-on collision
earlier this morning on the Beachline Expressway
two miles west of Cocoa.
Around 2 a.m., Titusville resident Travis J. Rios, 27,
was driving west in the wrong lane when slammed his
2001 Chrysler Sebring into a 2006 Dodge Ram 2500
pickup truck driven by Melbourne resident Amber
DeRoche, 20, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
The truck flipped over and caught fire, killing
passenger Erin Blake, 22, of Rockledge. DeRoche
and her two other passengers - Paul Griesse, 24,
and Daniel McDonald, 22, both of Palm Bay -
were taken to Holmes Regional Medical Center.
Rios also died at the scene, investigators said.
DeRoche told investigators she had just glanced down
at her radio and looked back up to see headlights
coming at her moments before Rios ran into her.
No one was wearing a seatbelt, and the victims had no
alcohol in their systems.
An investigation is pending to see if Rios had alcohol
in his system.
3 Survivors of Beachline Crash Improve
FROM: Florida Today (April 16th) ~
By Jeff Schweers
Three survivors of a fiery fatal head-on collision on the
Beachline Expressway continue to improve today,
hospital officials said.
Amber DeRoche, 20, and Daniel Mcdonald, 22, were
listed in good condition at Holmes Regional Medical
Center in Melbourne. Paul Griesse, 24, was in fair
DeRoche was driving McDonald, Griesse and Erin
Blake in a 2006 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck east
on the Beachline at 2 a.m. Sunday when they were
struck by Travis Rios, 27, about two miles west of
Cocoa, the Florida Highway Patrol said.
Rios was driving west in the eastbound lane in a 2001
Chrysler Sebring when he hit them head-on, troopers
The truck flipped and burst into flames, troopers said.
Rios and Blake died at the scene.
Ex-Eustis High Standout Thrived During Big Games
Photo and Stats:
FROM: The Orlando Sentinel (April 17th) ~
By Joe Williams, Staff Writer
Posted April 17, 2007
Travis Rios was remembered Monday as a gifted pitcher with a 90 mph
fastball, a fierce competitor, a hard worker and a team leader who was
instrumental in taking Eustis to the 2000 Class 3A state championship.
He dreamed of being a professional baseball player. It was a dream that
became a reality in June 2005 when he signed a free-agent contract with the
Boston Red Sox, pitching in their minor-league organization before being
released last spring.
Rios, 25, of Titusville was killed early Sunday morning in a head-on
collision. Witnesses told the Florida Highway Patrol that Rios was heading
westbound in the eastbound lanes of State Road 528 in a 2001 Chrysler
Sebring when he crashed into a 2006 Dodge Ram pickup driven by Amber
The pickup flipped and caught fire. Erin Blake, 22, of Rockledge, a
passenger in DeRoche's vehicle, also died at the scene. DeRoche and two
other passengers were taken to Holmes Regional Medical Center.
FHP did not have more details about the cause of the accident.
Rios was drafted by the New York Mets in the 19th round of the 2000 Major
League Baseball Draft, but he didn't sign. He went on to pitch at Palm Beach
Community College (8-3 with a 2.83 earned-run average), Lake-Sumter
Community College (9-2, 2.09 ERA), University of South Florida (6-1, 3.07
ERA) and Lynn University in Boca Raton (4-4, 2.99 ERA) and was 15th in the
nation in NCAA Division II in strikeouts per nine innings with a 10.5
After finishing his college career, Rios signed a free-agent contract with
the Red Sox.
'He didn't have any fear'
"I remember Travis as being an unbelievable competitor," said Paul Niles,
Eustis' assistant baseball coach. "I still have some people tell me that
some of the greatest games they saw Eustis play, he pitched.
"It seemed like the bigger the game, the more Travis got into it. He didn't
have any fear that he couldn't do anything. It seemed like when the
situation arose, he wanted to be on the mound. You can't breed that into
guys. They have to have that in them, and he had it."
Big games called for big-time performances, and Rios rose to those
occasions. One was a one-hitter in a 2-0 victory over Orlando's Bishop Moore
High, which gave Eustis the district championship and started the Panthers'
run through the state playoffs. Another was a 2-1 victory over Marianna, the
defending state champion, in the state semifinal.
"The first thing that comes to my mind about Travis is his degree of
determination," said Bill Miller, a former high-school baseball coach who
was Eustis' principal when Rios was there. "He loves the game of baseball.
He had all the tools, at least on the high-school level. He was instrumental
in getting us that first state championship."
Rios grew up in Leesburg and began his high-school career at Leesburg High
School, where he played on the Yellow Jackets' baseball and football teams.
He transferred to Eustis as a junior.
Rich Billings, now an assistant baseball coach at Lake-Sumter Community
College, remembered going to a baseball camp with Rios when they were
teammates at Leesburg. The two ended up playing together again for the
Central Florida Renegades, an amateur team for players 16 to 18, and at
"We pretty much grew up together," Billings said. "From a baseball
standpoint, when he was out on that mound, he was one of the fiercest
competitors you would ever want to meet. He was also a great guy to be
around. He knew how to relax the other guys on the team.
"I played defense behind him, and there were a couple of times [after his
transfer to Eustis] that I had to hit off of him, and I would much rather
play defense behind him."
LSCC head coach Mike Matulia got to know Rios not only as a player, but also
as his son's teammate. Rios and Matt Matulia played together on Eustis'
In addition to being named first-team all-state in baseball, Rios was named
second-team all-state at LSCC. Matulia said there was no question about
Rios' athletic ability.
Planned to teach, coach
Jason Bornstein, who was in the starting rotation with Rios during the
Panthers' playoff run and who later played at LSCC, said Rios always worked
at the game.
"The biggest thing was his motivation to get better," Bornstein said. "He
definitely affected everyone around him. He just had a real spark to the way
he played. He was definitely a leader of every team he played on.
"I know I am going to miss him."
Randy Hepburn has a different perspective on Rios. He began coaching Rios as
a 10-year-old linebacker on the Falcons in the Leesburg Recreation and Parks
Department's youth football league.
Even at that age, Hepburn said Rios showed traits of being a team leader.
Later, Hepburn coached the freshman football team at Leesburg High School,
and continued to see Rios as a leader.
Though Rios' baseball days may have ended when he was released by the Red
Sox, his godfather, John Cowin, said he may not have been through with the
Rios was planning to finish his bachelor's degree at St. Leo University and
possibly go into teaching and coaching.
"He was such a nice kid," Cowin said. "To me, he epitomized someone who was
dedicated. He was one of those kids who everybody was attracted to. The
thing he really loved was baseball. He always wanted to play pro, and he got
the opportunity to do that."
Rios is survived by his parents, Les and Joann Rios, Titusville, brother
Kyle Rios and sister Julie Grimes.
There will be a service for Rios at 2 p.m. Saturday at the First Baptist
Church of Eustis, 3551 E. Orange Ave., followed by a memorial ceremony at
Stuart Cottrell Field (corner of Kurt Street and Golf Links Drive), the home
field of Eustis' baseball team.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to a scholarship
fund, established in Rios' name, to the Education Foundation of Lake County,
910 E. Dixie Ave., Leesburg, FL 34748.