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Chiefs Linebacker Thomas Dies
Washington Post Staff Writer
Web Posted: Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2000; 12:55 p.m. EST
Derrick Thomas, the Kansas City Chiefs' Pro Bowl linebacker who was paralyzed in an automobile accident last month, died this morning at age 33.
Thomas had been moved from Missouri, where the accident occurred, to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. A hospital spokeswoman confirmed Thomasís death but said the cause was not immediately known. Doctors were expected to discuss Thomasís death later today, but team officials said he died of a heart attack.
There had been some hope that Thomas, who was paralyzed from the chest down after breaking vertebrae in his neck and chest, eventually would walk again following further surgeries.
"It is a devastating tragedy to the Kansas City Chiefs family, the people of Kansas City, the fans of the National Football League, and also to me, personally," Chiefs president Carl Peterson said this morning.
Thomas was the Chiefs' first-round selection in the 1989 NFL draft out of the University of Alabama. He holds Kansas City's franchise record and ranks ninth in NFL history with 126½ career sacks.
Thomas and two passengers were injured when Thomas lost control of his vehicle on an icy road while driving to the Kansas City airport Jan. 23. He was planning to travel to St. Louis for the NFC Championship game.
Thomas, 33, a nine-time Pro Bowl player, and friend Michael Tellis, 49, were thrown from the 1999 sport utility vehicle when it struck a median and flipped several times during an afternoon ice storm. Neither man was wearing a seat belt, and Tellis was pronounced dead at the scene.
Another passenger, John Hagebusch, 34, of Raymore, Mo., received minor injuries. Hagebusch was wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident.
This report contains material from the Associated Press.
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