Angels RHP Nick Adenhart was killed in an auto accident a day after his first start of the season in 2009, joining a list of MLB players that includes former Cardinals RHP Josh Hancock, Padres OF Mike Darr, Angels SS Mike Miley, Pirates RHP Bob Moose and Reds and Angels infielder Chico Ruiz- all of whom died as active players in auto accidents. Former MLB RHP Danny Frisella was killed in a dune-buggy accident in 1977 and former Indians RHPs Steve Olin and Tim Crews were killed in a boat accident that also seriously injured LHP Bobby Ojeda in 1993. Former Reds OF Dernell Stetson (in 2003) and Angels OF Lyman Bostock (1978) were murdered as a result of an attempted car jacking and from a gun shot wound, respectively.
When it comes to plane accidents, there have been no known cases of players being killed in passenger plane accidents, thank god (citation needed). The most recent fatality involving a MLB active player was the one involving former Yankees RHP Cory Lidle in 2006. Prior to that, of course, are the well documented plane crashes that took the lives of Yankees C Thurman Munson and HOF Pirates OF Roberto Clemente. Another took the live of Cubs 2B Ken Hubbs in 1964.
In 1903, the Wright Brothers successfully powered a plane for what was considered the first time ever. Over the next several years, flying aircraft became some what of a common occurrence. There was a fairly successful RHP in the late 19 teens and early 1920s named Marv Goodwin, who had an interest in flying. His interest was sparked by his involvement in the US military. Goodwin had flown in World War I and had remained in the reserves for the US Army and National Guard.
Goodwin started his MLB career in 1916 as a member of the Washington Senators. He pitched in 3 games out of the bullpen and gave up 2 runs in 5+ IP (3.18 ERA). While pitching for Milwaukee of the American Association in 1917, he was traded to the NL's St Louis Cardinals for 3 players, all of whom would play in the major leagues. In 1917, he got into 14 games, making 12 starts, and was 6-4 with a 2.21 ERA for the Cards. Goodwin would appear in just 1 game for Dallas of the Texas League in 1918 before serving his country in World War I.
After he returned from the war, he split the rest of his career between the Cardinals and Houston Buffalos of the Texas League. Goodwin was one of the 17 pitchers who were allowed to throw the spitball after it was outlawed in 1920. It was in the Texas League where Goodwin starred, pitching 269 or more innings from 1923-1925 and winning a total of 57 games in that three year span. In his final cup of big league action, he pitched in 4 games for the Cincinnati Reds, going 0-2, 4.79.
Seventeen days after Marv Goodwin pitched his last game of the 1925 season, he crashed his plane on a training flight as a member of the US Army Air Force Reserve. He was hospitalized with serious injuries including two broken legs. Many credited his piloting skills for the reason he escaped immediate death. Unfortunately, three days later, Goodwin succumbed to his injuries at the age of 34. He will forever be known as the first professional athlete to die as a result of a plane accident.