Former University of Alabama football player Rowdy Harrell, a tire carrier for Alex Bowman's NASCAR racing team , was killed along with his wife Blakley in a car wreck on Tuesday night.
They were celebrating their honeymoon in the Florida Keys after getting married over the weekend.
Harrell was a walk-on linebacker on the Crimson Tide's 2009, 2011 and 2012 national championship teams.
He was 30 years old.
"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," Nick Saban said during his teleconference with reporters Wednesday night. "A fine young man, and certainly our condolences to his family.
"You hate to somebody who has such great future and potential have something like this happy."
Harrell was hired by Hendrick Motorsports in September 2013 after going through a tryout camp.
“I never thought I would win one (championship) -- playing there was all that I wanted to do,” Harrell told the team 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.’”
Raised in Moundville, just outside of Tuscaloosa, Harrell grew up an Alabama fan. He never thought that one day he would be playing for the Crimson Tide.
“Growing up, it is just the most amazing thing that you could think of,” Harrell smiled. “That is all you know – school and Alabama football. I didn’t think I could ever become somebody that could be on that field doing what I was watching.”
Harrell described a game day in Tuscaloosa as "intense."
“It is a pretty intense deal,” the tire carrier said. “A game day at Alabama is a big deal; we don’t lose in that stadium.”
According to FlKeysNews, the accident occurred around 9:40 p.m. ET at mile marker 76 on U.S. 1 on Lower Matecumbe Key.
The Florida Highway Patrol report indicated that Harrell was driving north on the two-lane highway when he crossed into the southbound lane in the path of a 2013 Ford F-250 pickup truck.
The pickup truck driver unsuccessfully tried to avoid hitting the Corolla by driving onto the shoulder of the road, but the left front of the Toyota hit the front of the Ford.
Both Harrell and his wife died at the scene of the accident.
“Our entire team is absolutely devastated at the loss of Rowdy and Blakley,” said Greg Ives, who was Harrell’s crew chief for the past six seasons, in a statement. “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.”