Pedrie Wannenburg: Loved ones reeling after elite rugby player killed in crash

Loved ones are mourning the loss of a former international rugby player killed in a crash in west Harris County

Pedrie Wannenberg, 41, was most recently a coach at Rice University and so many people were shocked to hear what happened. 

DETAILS: Pursuit in Harris County ends with 1 dead, 6 injured

The sports community worldwide honored the rugby legend with his former South African team the Vodacom Bulls holding a moment of silence Saturday after he was killed Friday evening in a car crash just west of Houston. 

Eugene Eloff, Wannenberg's close friend and coach, spoke to FOX 26 from South Africa, telling us the rugby player and father touched many lives on and off the field. 

"He would go out of his way, to help other people," he said. "On the field, he would put his body on the line for his team. He was totally a team guy. Off the field, he’ll be remembered as a soft-spoken guy with a beautiful spirit that always cared about his fellow citizens, and loved his wife and kids.

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Authorities are still investigating the deadly crash, charging a 16-year-old driver with murder. Deputies tried pulling over the teen but he drove away at more than 100 miles per hour down Greenhouse road before losing control near Little York. That's where the teen driver hit Wannenberg’s pickup truck head on.  

Wannenberg's 8-year-old son was air-lifted to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. His wife and 10-year-old daughter were also in the car but were treated at the scene. At last check, friends tell FOX 26 the 8-year-old’s health is improving. 

"A few people came running over to the pickup truck, and pulled the boy out of the car and laid him on the ground," a witness said Friday evening. "He was bleeding pretty bad." 

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A rugby legend in South Africa, Europe, and the United States with coaching experience in Austin and across Texas, fans, friends and family were all heartbroken by the brutal crash. 

"To know that a youngster was speeding away from police when they didn’t need to do that…instead, they took away a family man from a young family," Eloff said. "Kids between 8 and 11 and a beautiful wife.  It brings you to tears…life and death is so closely connected. You're not guaranteed tomorrow."