CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Family, friends and teammates are mourning the death of a student-athlete from Chula Vista who died in a crash over the weekend.
Micah Pietila-Wiggs, 21, was driving a Ford F-150 truck southbound on Interstate 5, north of the San Ysidro Port of Entry around 5 a.m. Saturday when he lost control and crashed into a concrete barrier, California Highway Patrol said in a news release. He was rushed to UCSD Medical Center, where he died of his injuries.
Pietila-Wiggs began his baseball career when he played in the Eastlake Little League. Coaches say he was instrumental in taking the team to the 2013 World Series, playing second base as a middle schooler.
He went on to graduate from Eastlake High School in 2018, then spent the 2019 season with the University of New Mexico before transferring to Santa Ana College.
Eastlake Little League has opened the trophy case outside its main complex, where a memorial of candles, flowers and framed photos was growing Monday afternoon.
“Micah was loved and admired by so many,” the Eastlake Little League Board told FOX 5 in a statement. “This is evident in the outpouring of messages of that Eastlake Little League has received since the news of this tragic loss. Micah touched so many lives throughout this community.”
John Coyne, Pietila-Wiggs’ former assistant coach at the University of New Mexico, told FOX 5 of the impact he had on his teammates.
“Micah made the world a better place,” Coyne said. “He was the first person to pick his teammates up if they were down and push them to be better every day. He always had a smile on his face, upbeat energy, and a huge heart. He will be missed very much.”
Tom Nilles, college head baseball coach for Santa Ana, called Pietila-Wiggs “a ball of energy.”
“He was well-received by every guy on the team and they all wanted to hang out with him,” he said.
Nilles credited Pietila-Wiggs for his work ethic and saving their “tail in more than a few games.”
“It was incredible what that guy did,” Nilles said. “He saved more games for us than anyone I can remember.”
According to Nilles, Micah joined the Santa Ana College team in fall of 2019 and played centerfield until COVID-19 restrictions canceled games. He came back for the 2021 season and was set to transfer to the University of Central Missouri.
A vigil will be held Wednesday at 6 p.m.