A Pitch Against Drunk Driving

The 'Pearson-Wilhite-Stewart-Adenhart Commemorative Wall' will be officially dedicated on Saturday, Feb. 11 at 12:30 p.m. The wall strives to keep people from drinking and driving and is a lasting tribute to the foursome.

A commemorative wall installed to remind people to not drink and drive will be dedicated in a ceremony Saturday, Feb. 11, at 12:30 p.m. next to the "Big Marine" baseball field at 1625 Marine Ave., Manhattan Beach.

The "Pearson-Wilhite-Stewart-Adenhart Commemorative Wall" was created in honor of Manhattan Beach native Henry Pearson, who was killed in a vehicle accident shortly after midnight on April 9, 2009, in which a drunk driver collided with the car he and professional baseball player Nick Adenhart, Manhattan Beach native Jon Wilhite and their friend Courtney Stewart were in. 

Adenhart and Stewart also died; Wilhite has made a miraculous recovery after his spine was decapitated.

Pearson and Wilhite played baseball for Mira Costa and played in Little League and Pony League together.

At 1 p.m., following the ceremony, Mira Costa head baseball coach Cassidy Olson will highlight a large, commemorative circle bearing Henry's baseball jersey number 12 which will be placed on the outfield wall at Mira Costa’s Varsity Field. Then the Mira Costa Mustangs will play a game. 

Nigel Pearson, Henry's dad, said in a press release, "We each hope this commemorative wall—as well as the field itself—can act as an inspiration so that people will think twice about having a drink and then climbing behind the wheel of a car. We have unfortunately sacrificed teammates and close friends, people whom we have loved deeply, and yet we hope that these efforts can help to save future lives so they may not have passed entirely in vain."

Pearson, Wilhite and Stewart family members are expected to attend the ceremony, as are city officials and representatives of the Anaheim Angels, Cal State Fullerton Titans and Spirit Squad. 

Local organizations, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Manhattan Beach Police Department and Mira Costa High School’s PACE (People Attaining Complete Equality) student outreach and awareness program will be on site to provide information about their local programs and activities. 

Manhattan Beach Little League, Mira Costa Pony League, and Mira Costa's coach Olson and the Mira Costa Baseball Boosters have pledged to do continue to pledge their support and to raise awareness of the perils of drunk driving.

The leagues and boosters recently united to help purchase a new scoreboard for Big Marine in the hopes that the field will act as a home to future tournaments and other community events. 

Some teams playing on the Big Marine field include Mira Costa’s frosh-soph and junior varsity baseball and the MBLL Seniors All-Stars. It is the home field for two Manhattan Beach Little League programs: Juniors and Seniors baseball.

"Big Marine is also heavily trafficked by teens and young adults who play soccer, basketball and other sports, and the new 'Pearson-Wilhite-Stewart-Adenhart Commemorative Wall' sits in a central location so that all who use the park will pass by it frequently," according to the press release.

Mira Costa baseball has held an annual "" game against rival El Segundo High School the past two seasons, and has plans to expand that to other events, including a regional tournament for 2012.

The regional tournament will draw upon rivalry teams from the surrounding area, as well as other squads from California and nearby states, said the statement.

The Pearson and Wilhite families, longtime participants in MB Little and Pony leagues and Mira Costa baseball, have pledged future contributions to the Pearson-Wilhite Memorial Fund to continue enhancing the Big Marine field.

According to the statement, Wilhite "endured torn neck ligaments and fractured the bone connecting his spine and skull. The only things holding his head in place were muscle and skin—a condition known as internal decapitation—which claims the lives of more than 95 percent of all persons who suffer such injuries and typically leaves the remainder critically impaired." UC Irvine surgeon Dr. Nitin Bhatia, who fused Wilhite’s head and neck together in a five-hour operation, says only four people are known to have survived such a condition, and Wilhite has since spent countless hours in speech, vision and physical therapy to achieve a near recovery; miraculous enough that he recently started working full time with his dad and brother in the freight business, giving baseball lessons and looks to eventually help with Mira Costa baseball.

Charitable contributions to the Pearson, Wilhite, Stewart and Adenhart Families’ anti-drunk driving efforts can be made by mailing checks to "Pearson-Wilhite Commemorative Fund," care of Wells Fargo Bank, Manhattan Beach Office, 3110 North Sepulveda Blvd, Manhattan Beach, CA, 90266; or drop a check off at any Wells Fargo location. In all instances, list account #9423723981 in the check's memo line.

Related: Henry Pearson Classic: Honoring Baseball, Friendship


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