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Former Football: Ex-Cajuns defensive back Thomas dies in vehicle crash

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, July 17, 2019

Former Ragin’ Cajuns starting defensive back Sean Thomas tragically died in a two-vehicle accident Wednesday.

Thomas played safety, cornerback and on special teams for UL’s four New Orleans Bowl-winning teams from 2011-14.

“Nothing hurts worse than losing one of your kids,” tweeted former UL head coach Mark Hudspeth, now the head coach at Austin Peay State University in Tennessee. “Sean was loved by everyone and was a great player, person and ambassador for the University of Louisiana.

“Prayers to the Thomas family and his many teammates.”

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UL defensive back Sean Thomas takes the field for Senior Day in 2014. Thomas died in a vehicle accident Wednesday. Buy Photo

UL defensive back Sean Thomas takes the field for Senior Day in 2014. Thomas died in a vehicle accident Wednesday.  (Photo: Advertiser)

A product of St. Augustine High in New Orleans, Thomas, 26, was the son of ex-Cajuns defensive end/outside linebacker Quintin Thomas and Mary-Smith Thomas.

“I really feel for his family,” said Nicholls head coach Tim Rebowe, who was UL’s secondary coach when Thomas played for the Cajuns. “He is, he was, a great young man.

“His mother and his father were fantastic, and his two sisters, and to lose him at a young age is just a tragedy and a sad day.”

The Louisiana State Police reported that the crash occurred on Louisiana Highway 61 just south of Interstate 10, in St. James Parish.

Investigation began shortly before 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

According to the State Police report:

“The initial investigation revealed Thomas was traveling in the left southbound lane of US Hwy 61 in a 2014 Ford E-450 box truck.

“At the same time, the driver of a 2011 Kenworth tractor-trailer was making a U-turn from the left southbound lane of US Hwy 61 to travel northbound. For unknown reasons, Thomas’ Ford struck the rear of the tractor-trailer.

“Due to vehicle damage, seat belt use on his part is unknown. Impairment is not suspected for either driver, but standard toxicology samples were obtained for analysis.”

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For one game during Thomas’ senior season, against in-state rival UL Monroe, he was given the honor of wearing the No. 42 of former Cajuns and Minnesota Vikings star defensive back Orlando Thomas (no relation), who had recently died following a lengthy battle with ALS.

Former Cajuns cornerback Melvin White, who went on to play in the NFL for the Carolina Panthers in 2013 and ’14, was among several of Sean Thomas’ teammates sharing their grief via social media.

“This is truly hard to believe and extremely painful to deal with but I will forever cherish da times we spent on and off da field together,” White tweeted. “You will truly be missed Lil bro!!! #RestEasyPrime #LilBiggieSean #24”

Thomas began playing on special teams as a true freshman in 2011, when he appeared in eight of the season’s final nine games.

He played in all 13 games in 2012, on special teams and as a reserve cornerback.

As a junior in 2013, Thomas started at free safety in 12 of the 13 games he played in and finished third on the team with 65 total tackles. He had two interceptions in UL’s New Orleans win over Tulane that season, and 13 tackles while making his first career start at Arkansas.

Thomas again played in all 13 games in 2014, finishing with 43 tackles and one interception as a senior.

Each of the four Cajun teams Thomas played on went 9-4 on the field.

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“Rest in peace, 24,” the UL football program said from its official Twitter account, referencing Thomas’ usual Cajuns uniform number. “You will be missed.”

Other reaction on Twitter to Thomas’ passing:

â–º From former UL running back Effrem Reed, now a Cajuns defensive assistant: “Rest in heaven prime. You’ll be missed my brother. God gained a real one. Love you always”

â–º From ex-teammate Justin Anderson, who played for the New York Giants in 2014: “rest easy prime”

â–º From ex-Cajuns tight end Matthew Barnes, another former teammate: “Heavy heart today!”

â–º From former UL linebacker Otha Peters Jr., who redshirted with the Cajuns during Thomas’ senior season and played for the Washington Redskins in 2017: “Made me realize i Gotta Talk to my brothers more often! You never know”

â–º From the Cajuns’ equipment room Twitter account: “We in the Equipment Room are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of former Ragin Cajun Sean Thomas. … Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

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