Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent has officially been charged with intoxication manslaughter following an early Saturday morning single-car crash that killed teammate Jerry Brown.
Brent was driving his car at a high rate of speed when he lost control and flipped the vehicle, according to Irving (TX.) police. The crash occurred about 2:20 am CT, several hours before the Cowboys were scheduled to fly to Cincinnati for Sunday's road game against the Bengals. Brent was due to have been on that plane prior to the fatal accident.
In a statement released Saturday night by his agent, Brent expressed grief and remorse for the death of his teammate and longtime friend. Brown had been also staying with Brent at his Las Colinas, Tx., residence since being signed to the Cowboys' practice squad on Oct. 24, according to USA Today.
"I am devastated and filled with grief," Brent said in the statement. "Filled with grief for the loss of my close friend and teammate, Jerry Brown. I am also grief-stricken for his family, friends and all who were blessed enough to have known him.
"I will live with this horrific and tragic loss every day for the rest of my life. My prayers are with his family, our teammates and his friends at this time."
Intoxication manslaughter is a second-degree felony in Texas. If convicted, Brent could receive a prison sentence up to 20 years and a $10,000 fine. He is expected to be arraigned Sunday morning.
Brown, 25, was a passenger in the car driven by Brent. Emergency crews found him unresponsive after the crash and transported him to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A linebacker, Brown was a member of the Cowboys' practice team and was not slated to make the trip to Cincinnati. Both players are also former teammates at the University of Illinois.
After undergoing field sobriety tests at the scene of the crash, Brent was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to Irving police spokesman John Argumaniz. With Brown's death, that charge was upgraded to intoxication manslaughter. Brent remains behind bars, being held without bond. Argumaniz said Brent was unable to attend a 10 a.m. booking and bond hearing because he was still intoxicated.
According to Argumaniz, Brent was traveling on a state highway service road, which has a speed limit of 45 mph, at a high rate of speed in his 2007 Mercedes-Benz when it hit a curb and flipped at least once. The crash site was near the site of the Cowboys' now-demolished former Texas Stadium home.
''I can say investigators are certain they were traveling well above the posted speed limit,'' Argumaniz said.
Responding emergency personnel found Brent pulling Brown away from the vehicle, which had caught fire, which was extinguished shortly thereafter by police officers.
Police took Brent to a nearby hospital for treatment of minor injuries, as well as to have blood drawn to test the alcohol content within his bloodstream.
Police continue to investigate the crash. It is not known if there were any witnesses to the crash.
"We are deeply saddened by the news of this accident and the passing of Jerry Brown," team owner Jerry Jones said in a statement. "At this time, our hearts and prayers and deepest sympathies are with the members of Jerry's family and all of those who knew him and loved him."
Brent and Brown were college teammates at Illinois from 2007-09 under then-coach Ron Zook.
"Keep him in your prayers," current Illinois coach Tim Beckman tweeted.
"It's sad," Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones told USA Today. "Very sad. It's tragic for everybody."
This is not the first alcohol-related driving charge Brent has faced. He pleaded guilty to drunken driving charges nearly four years ago in Illinois. He also pled guilty to charges of speeding and driving on a suspended license, according to court records in Champaign County, Ill. As a result, Brent was sentenced to 60 days in jail, two years of probation, fined $2,000 and was ordered to perform 200 hours of community service. He was released from probation in July 2011, according to records.
Brent was suspended by from the Illini in 2009 after a DUI arrest. He was drafted by Dallas in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL draft.
Team officials informed players of the tragedy shortly before the flight to Cincinnati. It is the second tragedy that has rocked the NFL in a week. Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend and the mother of the couple's newborn daughter last Saturday, then went to the Chiefs' training facility where he killed himself in front of the Chiefs' head coach and general manager.
Brent had played in all of the Cowboys' 12 games thus far this season. He had recorded 35 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks.
Brown, a St. Louis native, signed with the Cowboys after a brief stint with the Indianapolis Colts, including appearing in one game.
"Tough day," Brent's agent, Peter Schaffer, told USA Today. "There are no winners here, only losers.
"Hopefully, Josh can dedicate the rest of his life to the memory of Jerry Brown. And you hope that nothing like this ever happens again."