Breaking News

Three members of Milligan University’s men’s track and field team were involved in an accident Thursday evening, Mar. 31, while running in Williamsburg, Virginia, where they were scheduled to compete this weekend in the 56th Annual Colonial Relays at William & Mary.

Sophomore Eli Cramer (Murfreesboro, TN) succumbed to his injuries. Seniors Alex Mortimer (Lexington, KY) and Eli Baldy (Knoxville, TN) also were injured. Mortimer sustained life threatening injuries and underwent surgery Thursday night for multiple fractures. He is in stable condition. Baldy was treated and released.

One additional member of the team and a coach also were on the scene but were uninjured.


Remembering Eli Cramer


Recent Updates

Eli Cramer Obituary

Read Eli’s obituary here.

Eli Cramer Memorial Service – April 5, 11a

Milligan University will celebrate the life of sophomore student-athlete Eli Cramer at a memorial service on Tuesday, April 5, 11:00 a.m. in Seeger Memorial Chapel. This event will be live streamed on the Milligan University Facebook page and YouTube channel.

WCYB – Livestream
WJHL – Live like Eli: Milligan community remembers student-athlete killed while running

Alex Mortimer – Released from Hospital (4/2/22)

Milligan Community,

We have received word that Senior Alex Mortimer has been released from the hospital in Virginia and is heading home to continue his recovery in Johnson City. We are greatly relieved by this news and are deeply appreciative for the countless prayers and kind actions shown during this time. Take care of one another.

Press Release (4/1/22)

Three members of Milligan University’s men’s track and field team were involved in an accident Thursday evening, Mar. 31, while running in Williamsburg, Virginia, where they were scheduled to compete this weekend in the 56th Annual Colonial Relays at William & Mary.

Sophomore Eli Cramer (Murfreesboro, TN) succumbed to his injuries. Seniors Alex Mortimer (Lexington, KY) and Eli Baldy (Knoxville, TN) also were injured. Mortimer sustained life threatening injuries and underwent surgery Thursday night for multiple fractures. He is in stable condition. Baldy was treated and released.

One additional member of the team and a coach also were on the scene but were uninjured.

Press Conference (4/1/22)
  • WATCH LIVE at facebook.com/milliganuniversity
  • WELCOME/INTRO: Dr. Lee Harrison, VP for Marketing and Enrollment
    Thank you for being here and joining us in your support and grief over this terrible tragedy. I’d like to provide an update on the information we know at this time, and then President Bill Greer, Athletic Director Christian Pope, and two students—Chase McGlamery and Ethan Pfister—will make some statements.
  • SITUATION: Last night, March 31, at approximately 6 p.m., the Milligan University men’s cross country/track and field teams had just arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia, to compete in the 56th Annual Colonial Relays at William & Mary starting this morning. Four runners and the assistant coach were on a practice run on Williamsburg Pottery Road when three* of the runners – all students – were struck by a car. According to the police report, the car fled the scene of the crash but was located shortly after when he crashed into a median. He was taken into custody and according to Virginia State Police, he has been charged with DUI maiming and felony hit-and-run. The investigation is on-going.  *As a point of clarity, the VSP police report indicated five were injured. The correct information, confirmed by the coaching staff present at the time, is that five individuals were running. Three were hit.
  • Of the three student athletes struck by the car:
    • Eli Cramer, a 20-year-old sophomore business administration major from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, suffered fatal injuries and died last night at Williamsburg Sentara Hospital. His parents are now in Williamsburg.
    • Alex Mortimer, a 23-year-old student who just graduated with a ministry degree and current graduate student in our MBA program, is from Lexington, Kentucky. Alex sustained life threatening injuries and underwent surgery last night at Riverside Hospital in Newport News. He has injuries to his shoulder, hips, and a broken fibula. His lungs are bruised and he has a possible concussion, but no serious brain injuries. He is stable and it appears he will make hopefully a full recovery. His wife and parents are now with him at the hospital.
    • Eli Baldy, a 21-year-old senior mechanical engineering major from Knoxville, Tennessee, suffered a leg and foot injury and was released from the hospital last night.
  • As the Milligan community learned of this tragedy last night, many came together in Seeger Chapel for a prayer vigil and to grieve and comfort each other. President Greer will provide additional information about our campus response.

DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS CHRISTIAN POPE

  • We are incredibly heartbroken by this tragedy.
  • I have spoken with Coach Chris Layne, head coach for this team, several times in the past 14 hours. He is absolutely devastated – the team is completely distraught. We are working very closely with them to provide support and to help them safely return to campus later today.
  • Coach Layne and his staff are focusing on taking care of their team members and the families. That is their priority and we are supporting them in that.
  • Our other athletic events scheduled for today – a baseball game and tennis match – have been postponed, as we work to support our grieving campus community.
  • I want to share some about these three individuals,

Eli Cramer

  • 2021 NAIA Cross Country All-American (20th, 25:40); third finisher on NAIA national championship team 
  • 2020 NAIA Cross Country All-American (27th, 25:12); third finisher on  
  • 2x All-AAC Cross Country First Team (5th in 2021, 4th in 2020) 
  • Set Milligan University 8k XC record – 24:17 (Queen City Invite) 
  • Set Milligan University 5k indoor record – 14:44.53 (NAIA National Championship prelims) 
  • 2x NAIA Indoor national qualifier (3k in 2021, 5k in 2022) 
  • NAIA Indoor finalist: 10th in 5k (2022) 
  • 3x All-AAC Indoor Track (3k and 5k in 2022, 3k in 2021) 
  • 2021 Outdoor national qualifier (5k) 
  • Head coach Chris Layne on Cramer in preseason preview: “Eli Cramer has single handedly helped grow our presence as a serious force in the college ranks. He knows everyone, they’ve followed his development and he just continues to be an ambassador for this team.” 

Alex Mortimer

  • Transferred to Milligan from the University of Kentucky in 2018, graduated in spring 2021 
  • 2021 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field All-American in marathon (4th, 2:43:35.80) 
  • Qualified for 2022 NAIA Outdoor Championships in marathon after winning the St. Patricks Music City Half Marathon on March 19, 2022 (1:11:18) 
  • 3x All-AAC Cross Country First Team (5th in 2018, 5th in 2019, 6th in 2020), All-AAC Second Team in 2021 (14th
  • 4x cross country national championship participant – top-60 finisher in 2018, 2019 and 2020; seventh finisher on 2021 NAIA national championship team 
  • 2021 AAC Outdoor Track & Field Champion – 10k (31:34.20) 
  • 2019 AAC Indoor Track & Field Champion – Distance Medley Relay (10:49.71) 
  • 2022 NAIA Indoor national qualifier (5k) 

Eli Baldy

  • 2021 NAIA Outdoor national qualifier in the marathon – finished 13th in 2:52:34.60 
  • Qualified for 2022 NAIA Outdoor nationals in the marathon – finished 5th in 1:14:29 at the St. Patrick’s Music City Half Marathon on March 19, 2022 
  • Part of four AAC championship teams: (XC in 2019, 2020 and 2021; indoor track in 2022) 

PRESIDENT BILL GREER

Words cannot express the grief that flowed across this campus and throughout the Milligan family around the world when we heard the news that one of our own, sophomore Eli Cramer, had been killed.

In the face of this tragedy, I witnessed the Milligan community come together last night in a beautiful way. Seeger Chapel was filled with hundreds of students, faculty, and staff, who prayed and cried together, and who brought one another comfort during this time of great loss. And together, we look to God for peace and for strength as we face these final few weeks of the semester, which will now continue in the shadow of this great loss. 

Milligan is a tight knit community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters, who deeply believe in the mission of this institution.  And when tragedy strikes one, it strikes us all. It was an emotional night for us, but a night that illustrated how important the individual members of this community are to one another, and how important it is to rely upon God.

We are grateful that Alex Mortimer’s and Eli Baldy’s injuries were less serious and that they are already on the path to recovery. And so we continue to pray for them and for their families and we pray for the family of Eli Cramer as they deal with the tragic loss of their son.  And, we pray for our coaches and for all the members of the team. They love each other, and we love them, so we pray for them as they navigate the coming days.

This team has demonstrated incredible perseverance this year. And I’ve watched them with pride as they have overcome every obstacle set out before them. And as I told those gathered together last night, they kept their eye on the prize and never gave up.  Just yesterday, ironically, I received a package from the NAIA national office.  In it were replicas of the National Championship Trophies that both our men’s and women’s cross-country teams had won last fall at the national championships, making Milligan only the third team in history to win both titles in the same year. So, for a little while yesterday, I was able to relive the joy I felt when I first heard the news that they had won. Then, only a few hours later, came the word that this tragic event had taken place and that Eli Cramer was dead. How quickly my emotions ebbed and flowed yesterday, and how quickly things that seemed so important, suddenly were not. 

But the Milligan community is strong because we rely on a shared faith in God and we know He has a plan in which good will rise up out of this tragedy. But for now, we need time to grieve, time to seek comfort in one another, and time to find strength in God.  I encourage you to reach out to each other for support, visit our counseling center, take time to stop by Seeger Chapel for prayer and solitude, or just simply take the time to be thankful for life and the people who make life special.

I am grateful for the outpouring of support from across the country and around the world. I also pass along to you the gratitude of the families who have been directly impacted. I have spoken with each of them and they are grateful for the love and support that has already been shared so fully with them.

Our prayers will continue as we face the coming days together.

  • Campus response
    • Classes cancelled, faculty present and providing support
    • Seeger Chapel open and available for those who are seeking a place for solitude and quiet prayer. Milligan faculty and staff present.
    • Counseling Center open from 8am-4pm today and 10am-4 on Saturday and Sunday.
    • Crisis Response personnel from Frontier Health will be in the Student Center today from 11am until 2pm.
    • Counseling faculty members will be available at residence halls Saturday and Sunday from 10am until 4pm.
    • We will have other opportunities for the community to gather in memory and support next week, which we will announce soon after conferring with the family.

STUDENT COMMENTS

  • Chase McGlamery, SGA president and a friend of Eli Cramer
  • Ethan Pfister, team captain and personal friend of Eli Cramer
Mourning the loss of Eli Cramer – A message from the SGA President (4/1/22)

Milligan Community,

The past 24 hours have been unimaginable for our campus and have left a hole in our community. Eli Cramer was our friend, classmate and teammate. Above all, Cramer was a stranger to no one. He held a contagious energy that was integral to his team and our campus community. Like many of you, I shared classes and countless laughs with him. He was the type of person that always brightened your day. Cramer was a man who knew when to put his head down and work or when to steal the room with a sarcastic comment. Cramer was one of the best, but he never looked down on anyone. He saw people for people and loved them for who they were.

Words cannot adequately describe the sorrow and heartbreak that is flowing rampantly across our campus today. The next few days and coming weeks will bring a great deal of emotion and heartache for Cramer’s teammates, friends, family and our entire community.

We are one family at Milligan and now a part of us is forever missing. This tragedy reminds us how short and fragile our lives are. Life will always be ready to catch us off guard, storms will come and go, and trouble will always find its way into our lives. But, it’s how we respond to times of trouble that define who we are.

Finding people to share our lives with, people who show up day after day and people we trust, is rare. Yet somehow, we found an entire campus full of people ready to stand with us when we need it the most, and that time is now.

God has always had a special plan for Cramer since the beginning of his life. I think we could all speak to what he has meant in our own personal lives, but for me, Cramer was a friend. He was someone who pushed others to be the best versions of themselves and someone who brought light to any dark day.

I know we are all filled with questions and disbelief, but I hope that we can all find some peace in knowing that through all of this, we have each other. We all want to make sense of the pain and the hurt. We want there to be a purpose. God is still in control and is working inside each and every one of us.

Over the next several weeks, we must continue to show up for each other, love each other, and continue to be the Milligan family from last night’s prayer gathering. We must live fully and love deeply right now; Cramer would have wanted this. As hard as it is to process what has happened, we will get through this together with God’s timing.

Because we live on this side of life, where we’re always saying goodbye, our pain today may feel unbearable. However, I’m sure Cramer already has found his place in Heaven and is planning to meet us again someday.

Please continue to pray for Cramer’s family as they begin to make sense of yesterday’s tragedy. Pray for our entire cross country/track & field team, their coaches and our entire community.

I also ask that you continue to lift seniors Alex Mortimer and Eli Baldy up in prayer as they and their families begin to recover and make sense of what has happened.

Hold on to each other tightly today and every day. Take care of one another.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Chase McGlamery
Student Government President


The counseling center will be open and available all day today, beginning at 8:00 a.m. There will be counseling professionals available in the resident halls throughout the weekend. We will continue to keep you updated with available resources during this time.

Video update from Alex Mortimer (3/31/22)

Accident involving student-athletes (3/31/22)

MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY, Tenn. (March 31, 2022) — We are incredibly shocked and saddened to share that members of our men’s cross country/track & field team were in an accident involving a vehicle this evening while running near Williamsburg, VA. Sophomore Eli Cramer succumbed to his injuries. Seniors Alex Mortimer and Eli Baldy also were injured. Mortimer currently is undergoing treatment. Baldy was treated and released.

We covet your prayers during this difficult time, especially for the Cramer family.  

The university will provide additional information as it becomes available.


Student Bios

Eli Cramer

Sophomore, Business Administration (Murfreesboro, Tenn./Riverdale High School) 

  • 2021 NAIA Cross Country All-American (20th, 25:40); third finisher on NAIA national championship team 
  • 2020 NAIA Cross Country All-American (27th, 25:12); third finisher on  
  • 2x All-AAC Cross Country First Team (5th in 2021, 4th in 2020) 
  • Set Milligan University 8k XC record – 24:17 (Queen City Invite) 
  • Set Milligan University 5k indoor record – 14:44.53 (NAIA National Championship prelims) 
  • 2x NAIA Indoor national qualifier (3k in 2021, 5k in 2022) 
  • NAIA Indoor finalist: 10th in 5k (2022) 
  • 3x All-AAC Indoor Track (3k and 5k in 2022, 3k in 2021) 
  • 2021 Outdoor national qualifier (5k) 
  • Head coach Chris Layne on Cramer in preseason preview: “Eli Cramer has single handedly helped grow our presence as a serious force in the college ranks. He knows everyone, they’ve followed his development and he just continues to be an ambassador for this team.” 
Alex Mortimer

Graduate Student, Ministry (Lexington, Ky./Tates Creek High School) 

  • Transferred to Milligan from the University of Kentucky in 2018, graduated in spring 2021 
  • 2021 NAIA Outdoor Track & Field All-American in marathon (4th, 2:43:35.80) 
  • Qualified for 2022 NAIA Outdoor Championships in marathon after winning the St. Patricks Music City Half Marathon on March 19, 2022 (1:11:18) 
  • 3x All-AAC Cross Country First Team (5th in 2018, 5th in 2019, 6th in 2020), All-AAC Second Team in 2021 (14th
  • 4x cross country national championship participant – top-60 finisher in 2018, 2019 and 2020; seventh finisher on 2021 NAIA national championship team 
  • 2021 AAC Outdoor Track & Field Champion – 10k (31:34.20) 
  • 2019 AAC Indoor Track & Field Champion – Distance Medley Relay (10:49.71) 
  • 2022 NAIA Indoor national qualifier (5k) 
Eli Baldy

Senior, Mechanical Engineer (Knoxville, Tenn./Homeschooled) 

  • 2021 NAIA Outdoor national qualifier in the marathon – finished 13th in 2:52:34.60 
  • Qualified for 2022 NAIA Outdoor nationals in the marathon – finished 5th in 1:14:29 
  • Part of four AAC championship teams: (XC in 2019, 2020 and 2021; indoor track in 2022)