HOUSTON (AP) — A crash at a red light killed six people including former NFL cornerback D.J. Hayden in downtown Houston early Saturday.
Hayden, Zachary McMillian and Ralph Oragwu were former University of Houston football players who were killed in a crash at the 2000 block of Fannin Street near Pierce Street. Another former UH player, Jeffery Lewis, survived the crash but is in the hospital.
The two-vehicle crash occurred about 2 a.m. when a Chrysler 300, apparently “going very fast, high velocity,” ran the red light and collided with an SUV, Houston Police Assistant Chief Megan Howard said.
Five men and one woman died, including Hayden, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Four people were pronounced dead at the scene. Those killed included the driver of the Chrysler and a man who appeared to be homeless, Howard said.
Four people were taken to the hospital and two of them died, Howard said, while one female passenger was in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.
Police interviewed a male passenger from the SUV at the hospital. Investigators were working to identify the driver of the SUV, Howard said.
Hayden, 33, was born in Houston and starred at the University of Houston, according to his profile page on ESPN.com. A first-round draft pick in 2013, he played in eight seasons through 2020 for the Oakland Raiders, Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars.
“D.J.’s courage, perseverance, and dedication to his teammates will be fondly remembered by everyone who knew him,” the Raiders, now based in Las Vegas, said Saturday in a statement. “The prayers of the entire Raider Nation are with D.J.’s loved ones at this time.”
In 2012, Hayden survived and later recovered from a near-death tear to a major vein by his heart after he and a teammate collided during practice, requiring emergency surgery.
UH sent out the following statement before Saturday’s football game against Cincinnati:
“The entire University of Houston community is heartbroken over the tragic passing of former Football student-athletes D.J. Hayden, Zachary McMillian and Ralph Oragwu earlier today, and our thoughts and prayers remain with Jeffery Lewis in his recovery ahead. We extend our deepest condolences to their families, friends, and loved ones, as we collectively mourn the loss of three individuals who made an indelible impact on each life they touched. While their combined talents provided Houston Football some of its most unforgettable moments, their unique legacies will best be remembered for the way they loved their teammates, supported their communities and defied the odds.”