Forgiveness: The Andrew Bellatti Story

Andrew Bellatti tragically hit an on-coming car and killed the driver in 2010. 13 years later he met face-to-face with the surviving family. A story of the power of forgiveness and kindess ensued.

World Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Houston Astros - Game Two
World Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Houston Astros - Game Two / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

Forgiveness is a powerful thing. The story of Andrew Bellatti and the Reid family where the then-18-year-old prospect for the Tampa Bay Rays, was driving too fast and struck an on-coming vehicle, killing 50-year-old David Reid, is riddled with forgiveness. It’s a tragic story of a wife losing her husband, two children losing their father and a young 18-year-old, who was just drafted to the MLB, altering the course of his life. The act of forgiving can be difficult in such devastating situations but the strength that Lyn Reid, the widow of David Reid, and her family showed to Bellatti was a life-saving act that the now 32-year-old, pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies was quoted, in an ESPN article by Andrea Adelson, saying to Lyn and Garrett Reid (son of David Reid), “Somehow you didn’t want me to rot in the ground for the rest of my life. You honestly had a hand in where this life is.”

13 years ago, on January 22, 2010, Bellatti was driving his newly purchased, red mustang that he bought himself after being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays. He was rushing to get his then-girlfriend to her basketball game when a car pulled out in front of him. Rather than braking, he decided to speed up and swerve around the car. But that put him directly onto on-coming traffic. Garrett Reid and his dad David Reid were coming back from the movies driving in that lane when the red mustang swerved into them. David died in the accident and Garrett sustained serious injuries. After many months, in October, 2010, Bellatti pleaded guilty of vehicular manslaughter. Imagine the roller coaster of emotions that the 18-year-old must have gone through going from being drafted to play professional baseball, to then being in a tragic accident, pleading guilty to manslaughter and facing a jail sentence altering the course of his life.

However, Lyn Reid and her family did the unthinkable and forgave the young pitching prospect. She recommended leniency and for him to receive no prison time. Many people may not understand this and would maybe even seek revenge and want the man responsible for the death of a loved one to remain in jail for a great length of time. Many people would seek to essentially end the life in place of the life that was taken from them too early. The surviving Reid family didn’t want that and they knew the departed David Reid wouldn’t have either. Lyn Reid said, “I knew we couldn’t have Dave back. How much carnage do you want from one event? There’d been enough.” and “Dave would have forgiven him before I even did”.

The display of strength and forgiveness gave Bellatti another chance at living his life to his fullest potential. He didn’t shy away from the accident and took responsibility for the tragedy. He wrote a lengthy letter to the Reids apologizing and recognizing the pain he caused. He acknowledged the mistake he made and that he would learn from his mistake and be a better person. A momentous event like this forces someone to grow up instantly and change as a person. Hopefully for the better and it seems that Bellatti saw this as an opportunity to be better.

Fast forward 13 years and the 32-year-old is playing for the Phillies in the big leagues. A series of events from crawling through the ranks of the minors in different organizations got him to where he is today. During the Phillies World Series run in 2022, Alex Coffey from The Inquirer reached out to Reid for comment and she was reminded that she had never connected with Bellatti after he sent that letter. In her forgiving way, she immediately thought to reach out to him.

The realization that she had never connected with Bellatti led to the two families connecting and they planned to meet for the first time since the accident 13 years ago. It was a moment that both, the Reids and Bellatti, seemingly needed to finally close the book on the horrific event. During the 30 min face-to-face meeting, the Phillies pitcher expressed his sincere gratitude and remorse again. The Reids saved his life, and they are the reason he is where he is today. With his daughter with him, he thanked them for her as well because, in his words, “you had a hand in her”.

The emotional moment left everyone reflecting on the incident and the 13 years since. And how one, seemingly, ordinary night changed so many peoples lives. It left the two families reflecting on how their response to the tragedy changed the course of their own lives but also of the other people directly involved. The Reids sense of forgiveness gave Bellatti another chance at life and Bellatti’s empathy and remorse allowed the Reids to move forward with their lives.

This story is one of second chances, humbleness, forgiveness, and kindness. It’s a story that goes beyond baseball and because of Bellatti’s presence on a Major League Baseball team, it allows the story to shine as a guiding light to everyone who comes across it. It teaches that even in the worst of situations where nothing good seems to ever come, people can rise above the catastrophe and be better people. It’s a story that shows forgiveness and kindness can be a catalyst to good.

Bellatti was recently called up to the Phillies after a prolonged period in AAA. He is pitching for the first time as a professional with some semblance of a weight being lifted off his shoulders. He will likely never forget the devastating accident when he was an 18-year-old kid but having met the Reid family again and being able to confront the internal demons head on he must feel a sense of relief. After so many years he has the opportunity to forgive himself and live his life to the fullest capacity.