Thomas Howard, who played five NFL seasons with the Oakland Raiders before shorter stints with the Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons, passed away in a high-speed car accident on Monday morning on Interstate Highway 880 in Oakland, Calif.
Candice Naranjo, Mario Sevilla and Sylvia Ramirez of KRON4.com reported on the tragic development, citing sources with knowledge of the situation.
The former linebacker was 30 years old. Zeng Long Liu, a 64-year-old man from Hayward, Calif., was also a fatal victim in the crash.
Howard was driving north on Highway 880 at over 100 miles per hour in a BMW 750Li sedan when he lost control of his car and crashed into the back of a semi-truck.
According to California Highway Patrol officer Daniel Hill, Howard's car went airborne and crossed the median into the southbound lanes. It then collided with a Honda CR-V driven by Liu after first hitting a Chevrolet Monte Carlo.
Rescuers from the highway patrol and Oakland Fire Department tried to reach both Howard and Liu, but were unable to due to the significant damage to both of their vehicles.
Both men were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, which was reported at 12:50 a.m. The driver of the Chevrolet was taken to the Kaiser Permanente Oakland Medical Center for treatment.
NFL agent David Mulugheta sent well-wishes to Howard's family in the wake of the tragedy, and praised Howard's high character.
Howard was drafted No. 38 overall in 2006 by the Raiders and started 62 of the first 64 games of his career before appearing in 12 games in the 2010 campaign.
His success with Oakland led to Howard signing a two-year contract with the Bengals, with whom he started 15 of 16 games in 2011, helping the team make a surprise playoff appearance.
After playing just one game last season in Cincinnati, Howard was active for two games in Atlanta this season before being released on Nov. 12 so that the Falcons could activate linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.
Howard tallied 492 combined tackles, six sacks, seven interceptions and two defensive touchdowns in his NFL career.