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Third athlete dies during Junior Olympic Games

August 7, 1997

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Twin tragedies shadowed the Junior Olympic Games on Wednesday after a third athlete lost her life in a traffic accident.

Eva Gunther, 12, a tae kwon do athlete from San Francisco, was struck and killed by a car Tuesday night while crossing a busy freeway on foot with her father.

``It’s another tragic, unfortunate accident we cannot explain,″ Amateur Athletic Union president Bobby Dodd said.

Dodd interrupted Wednesday night’s opening ceremonies to remember Gunther, Geoffrey Jones, 18, and Chad Cipriani, 19. The latter two, wrestlers from Georgia, were killed Monday on the way to the games in a car crash on Interstate 85 near Spartanburg.

``Every once in a while, someone will be faster and make it to the finish line before us, but you have to learn to keep the competition in perspective,″ Dodd told 15,000 athletes, coaches, family members and others at the Charlotte Coliseum. ``We’ve learned at these games that the celebration of life is a short period of time for all of us.″

Gunther was about to start the seventh grade at Presidio Hill School in San Francisco, where she worked as a junior camp counselor this summer.

Police have charged the driver of the car, Andrew Otis Melton, 46, of Charlotte, with driving while impaired. He could also face felony death-by-vehicle charges, police said. They said he didn’t brake before his car struck the girl.

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