Former University of Alabama football player Rowdy Harrell, a tire carrier for Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 88 NASCAR racing team, was killed along with his wife in a car wreck in the Florida Keys on Tuesday night. He was 30.
Harrell was a walk-on linebacker with the Crimson Tide during their national championship seasons in 2009, 2011 and 2012, Sports Illustrated reported. He was celebrating his honeymoon with his 23-year-old wife, Blakley Harrell, NASCAR.com reported. The couple were married in Alabama over the weekend and were in Florida for their honeymoon.
They were North Carolina residents at the time of their deaths.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Harrell was driving a 2020 Toyota Corolla northbound on U.S. 1 when he collided with a Ford F-250 pickup truck at about 9:40 p.m. on Lower Matecumbe Key, FLKeysNews.com reported. Troopers said Harrell’s vehicle crossed into the southbound lane and into the path of the pickup driven by a 62-year-old man from Tennessee, according to FLKeysNews.com.
The driver of the pickup was taken to an area hospital with minor injuries. His two passengers, a 58-year-old woman and a 62-year-old Tennessee woman, both from Tennessee, were seriously injured, the website reported.
Harrell and his wife were pronounced dead at the scene, Sports Illustrated reported.
Harrell was a pit-crew member for Hendrick Motorsports for the past eight seasons, most recently for driver Alex Bowman, NASCAR.com reported. He was also involved in two championship seasons for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, the website reported.
“Our entire team is absolutely devastated at the loss of Rowdy and Blakley,” No. 88 crew chief Greg Ives said in a statement provided by the team. “They were such positive, giving and passionate people who could not have been a more perfect match. Rowdy had an energetic and infectious personality. He was the heart and soul of our team and always kept us motivated, no matter the circumstance. Rowdy shared his love with the people around him and was loved in return. Although he will be greatly missed, his memory will continue to inspire us always. Our prayers are with Rowdy, Blakley and their wonderful family.”
Harrell was raised in Moundville, Alabama, just outside of Tuscaloosa. Harrell grew up an Alabama fan and said he never believed he would one day play for the Tide on three NCAA championship squads.
“I never thought I would win one (championship) -- playing there was all that I wanted to do,” Harrell told the Crimson Tide website in 2015. " I didn’t care what we did. But I got the first one and I was like, ‘All right, I’ve made it -- this is a big deal.’”
Alabama coach Nick Saban expressed his condolences during a teleconference call with reporters Wednesday night.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Rowdy Harrell, who was a walk-on player here, a linebacker from 09-12, he also worked in the weight room a little bit for us,” Saban said. “A fine young man, and certainly our condolences to his family.”
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