Former Miami Hurricanes safety JoJo Nicolas died a little more than a day after suffering serious injuries in a two-car crash in Miami Beach early Tuesday morning, the school confirmed Wednesday evening.
We are saddened to hear the news that our brother JoJo Nicolas passed away today. He is forever a Miami Hurricane pic.twitter.com/smph6JsHCR— Hurricanes Football (@MiamiHurricanes) February 27, 2014
Nicolas was 24.
A four-year letter winner during his time with the Hurricanes (2007-11), Nicolas crashed into the back of an 18-wheeler, pinning his gray Lexus underneath. The accident left recovery crews working for an extended period to extricate Nicolas from the car and assess the damage. They eventually had to cut off the roof of the vehicle, at which point, Nicolas was immediately rushed to a local hospital.
Placed in critical condition, Nicolas was barely holding on as of Tuesday night. Abner Davis, Nicolas' brother, broke the news of his death at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Wednesday, according to Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel.
Police are still investigating the cause of the crash. Nicolas, who would have turned 25 on March 3, was out at Miami bars for an early celebration of his birthday before the accident. At 2:25 a.m. ET Tuesday morning, Nicolas sent out a Twitter message indicating he was at the famous Mansion Nightclub in Miami Beach:
Kickin off the bday turn up week at mansion with my brotha @2Tuckz— Jojo Nicolas (@GrindMode29) February 25, 2014
It's unknown at this time whether alcohol was a contributing factor in the accident. Speaking with the Cabrera Chirinos, officers could also not say whether Nicolas' vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed.
“Those could be contributing factors. It’s still part of the investigation,” Miami Beach detective Vivian Hernandez said. “They took measurements and that will take a little bit of time.”
Miami head coach Al Golden was at the family's side as they announced Nicolas' death. Many, including Manny Navarro of the Miami Herald, used Nicolas' death as a framing device to mourn the many Hurricanes players gone too soon:
A hard worker admired by his teammates for his passion, Nicolas became one of the major leaders on the 2011 Hurricanes squad. He had 66 total tackles and two interceptions as a senior, as the Hurricanes went 6-6 in the regular season.
Nicolas' collegiate career ended when Miami announced it would not accept bowl invites due to the Nevin Shapiro investigation. Despite the inauspicious end, he was awarded the 2011 Melching Leadership Award, which honors student-athletes who excel not only on the field of play, but in the classroom as well.
Undrafted in 2012, Nicolas latched on with the New York Giants as a free agent before being cut in August. He went each of the last two NFL seasons without a team, though his Twitter biography still listed him as "chasing" a pro opportunity.
Nicolas is survived by his brother, a son and other family members.