CLAREMORE, Okla. (AP) — An Oklahoma man has been charged with manslaughter almost a year after a car collision killed former Jets defensive lineman Dennis Byrd.
Rogers County court records indicate the charge was filed Wednesday against 18-year-old Zachary Reed of Claremore. The records show a warrant was issued for Reed’s arrest but don’t indicate whether he is represented by an attorney.
Byrd was 50 when he died Oct. 15 after a two-vehicle crash north of Claremore, a Tulsa suburb. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said at the time that a northbound vehicle driven by Reed veered into the oncoming lane and struck a vehicle driven by Byrd.
A second-round draft pick out of Tulsa, Byrd played for the Jets from 1989-92. On Nov. 29, 1992, against Kansas City, he broke his neck after slamming headfirst into the chest of teammate Scott Mersereau as Chiefs quarterback David Krieg stepped forward to avoid a sack. The impact broke the C-5 vertebra in Byrd’s neck, leaving him paralyzed, and doctors were uncertain if Byrd would ever be able to walk again.
Byrd underwent intense rehabilitation and returned to the Meadowlands for the Jets’ opening game the following season and walked — gingerly but unaided — to midfield as an honorary captain. His No. 90 was retired by the Jets in 2012, and players vote every season for a teammate to receive the Dennis Byrd Most Inspirational Player award.
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