Former UM football player JoJo Nicolas dies after crash on MacArthur Causeway

02/27/2014 12:01 AM

02/27/2014 12:35 AM

A day after a horrific early morning crash on the MacArthur Causeway, relatives announced that former University of Miami football player JoJo Nicolas had died from his injuries Wednesday evening.

Surrounded by family and friends, his brother Abner Davis read a statement to members of the media at a hastily called press conference at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Nicolas was officially pronounced dead at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Family members expressed gratitude to all who had reached out to them. “We would like to thank everyone for their support, community efforts, love and prayers all across the nation, ’’ Davis said.

“We lost the life of a brother, a son, a grandson and an athlete of the University of Miami,” he said.

Before the news of his death was announced, family and friends continued to use social media to spread well wishes and prayers for Nicolas, who had remained in critical condition at the Ryder Trauma Center since the early morning crash left his Lexus wedged underneath the rear of an 18-wheeler.

UM officials offered their condolences Wednesday night.

“The University of Miami community has suffered a deep loss,” Hurricanes’ head football coach Al Golden said.

“For all of us who were fortunate to know JoJo — to coach him, teach him, play alongside him or simply to befriend him — we will forever carry his memory with us. Our prayers go out to his family and his loved ones, and he will always be a cherished member of our family.”

Added UM athletic director Blake James: “He will forever be a part of The U.”

According to police, Nicolas, who was a Canes defensive back from 2007-2011 and wore jersey No. 29, was heading west on the MacArthur Causeway about 5 a.m. Tuesday when his car slammed into the rear of the refrigerated tractor trailer.

The crash paralyzed traffic and sent Nicolas to the hospital with serious injuries, police said.

The investigation into what happened continued Wednesday. It was still not clear what led to the crash, but detectives were looking into whether speed, alcohol, texting or any other factors played a role.

Former Hurricanes expressed their condolences on Twitter after hearing the news. “A leader indeed, but even better brother Rip JO JO,” wrote fellow cornerback Brandon McGee.

“RIP JoJo,” tweeted safety A.J. Highsmith. “You always showed me love & helped show me the ropes at UM. I’ll forever appreciate the love you had for me as a brother.”

Former teammate Lamar Miller, now a Miami Dolphins running back, posted “Life is too short! Make sure you take advantage of every opportunity in life!!! Y’all be safe and stay prayed up.”

In the hours before the crash, Nicolas had been celebrating ahead of his March 3 birthday, posting on social media at about 2 a.m. that he was starting his festivities at a South Beach night club.

Miami Herald sportswriter Susan Miller Degnan contributed to this report.

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