A 2017 graduate of Central High School died in a car accident near Cloverdale, Calif., Tuesday night, and another Virgin Islander was injured in the wreck.
Sen. Positive Nelson confirmed Wednesday that Zion James, 18, the son of Stephanie and Michael James Sr., died in the car accident.
Nelson said James was his nephew, as well as a nephew of Public Works Commissioner Gustav James and former Sen. Wayne James.
“We haven’t gotten it fully straight yet,” Nelson said. He said his nephew was a passenger in the car.
According to the Press Democrat, a newspaper in Santa Rosa, Calif., Zion James and his unidentified friend were thrown from the vehicle as it overturned.
The name of the friend traveling with Zion James was not available.
“We’ve been told the friend has had to have emergency hip surgery,” Nelson said.
The Press Democrat said the friend was rushed to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital with major injuries.
The newspaper said two women in the vehicle — one was the driver — also were injured.
According to the Press Democrat report, the Mitsubishi sport utility vehicle appeared to have lost control about 6 p.m., about five miles north of Cloverdale in southern Mendocino County.
The two men from the Virgin Islands were not wearing seatbelts, according to the newspaper.
Nelson said his family is devastated by the death of Zion.
“He was very talented; way beyond his years. He was a leader amongst his peers,” Nelson said.
The St. Croix senator said Zion “used to put some nice videos on Facebook, going on the water spear fishing.”
Nelson said Zion was traveling in California with his friend before starting this fall at the University of the Virgin Islands.
“He and a friend decided they were going to go to California for a couple of weeks,” Nelson said.
Nelson said the family will announce “something where his friends and classmates can come” pay respects and mourn.