The Mississippi Highway Patrol is investigating a one-vehicle accident that claimed the life of Thomas Williams, the father of Dan Williams, a defensive tackle for the Arizona Cardinals.
An Oakland, Tenn., resident, the elder Williams; his wife Karen; and their daughter, 29-year-old Kristina Fluckner, were on their way to Louisiana Friday afternoon to watch Dan play against the New Orleans Saints, the Cardinals said in a statement.
Trooper First Class Tony Dunn said Williams, 61, was a passenger in a 2007 white Chevy Tahoe driven by his wife when she attempted to pass another vehicle. Mrs. Williams veered off Interstate 55 three miles south of Grenada, Miss., and went over a bridge.
“After she collided with a guard rail,” Dunn said, “her vehicle traveled airborne over the guard rail and onto a county road that runs below the interstate.”
Dunn said the SUV fell about 50 feet and landed upright.
Williams, the only passenger not wearing a seat belt, was ejected and thrown about five feet from the vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene by Grenada County Deputy Coroner Jacqueline Conley, who said his cause of death was due to “multiple system trauma.”
Williams’ body was later released to the M.J. Funeral Home in Memphis, Tenn.
Mrs. Williams, 56, and her daughter sustained serious injuries, Dunn said, but were talking to emergency response personnel before being transported by ambulance to University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Miss.
Their condition is unknown.
Dunn said the accident is being turned over to a crash team who will continue the investigation.
A first-round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, Dan was excused from the game.
Bruce Arians, the head coach for the Cardinals, said after a devastating loss of 31 to 7: “Our prayers and thoughts go to Dan.”