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University of New Mexico safety Markel Byrd dies in crash

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) University of New Mexico officials say a member of the school's football team has died in a car crash.

University spokesman Frank Mercogliano confirmed Wednesday that 20-year-old Markel Byrd was killed in a single-vehicle accident near Gallup.

According to officials, Byrd was driving home to San Diego for the holidays with his girlfriend Tuesday when their car sustained a blowout on Interstate 40. Both were ejected from the vehicle.

Authorities say Markel died at the scene.

His girlfriend, whom the university did not identify, is hospitalized in critical condition.

Byrd was a sophomore and played safety for the New Mexico Lobos. Head Coach Bob Davie says Byrd was an outstanding person and student-athlete.

Byrd, who redshirted in 2013, tied for the team lead in interceptions this year.

Funeral services are pending.