Former Oregon cornerback, Minnesota Vikings rookie Khyri Jackson dies in auto accident

Former Oregon cornerback and Minnesota Vikings rookie Khyri Jackson died in a motor vehicle accident in Maryland on Friday night.

Jackson, 24, was killed along with former Dr. Henry Wise Junior High School teammates Anthony Litton Jr. and Isaiah Hazell, according to their high school coach, Dallon Parrish. Litton played at Florida State and Penn State and Hazell played at Maryland and Charlotte.

“We are stunned to hear the news of Khayree Jackson's death in a car accident overnight,” the Vikings said in a statement. “While we work to gather more information, we have spoken with Khayree's family and offered support on behalf of the Minnesota Vikings. We have also communicated the news to Vikings players, coaches and staff and have offered counseling for those who need emotional support. Our thoughts are with Khayree's family, friends, teammates and coaches, as well as all the victims of this tragic accident.”

Maryland State Police say they are investigating the fatal crash, which happened shortly after 3:14 a.m. ET in Prince George's County. Police say their preliminary investigation shows an Infiniti Q50 car driven by Corey Klingaman was traveling north on Route 4/Pennsylvania Avenue and they believe he tried to change lanes while “driving at a high rate of speed” when he struck a Dodge Charger driven by Hazel, with Jackson in the passenger seat and Litton in the backseat, as well as a Chevrolet Impala.

The Charger left the road and “struck several tree trunks, where the vehicle came to a rest,” according to top cops, adding that Hazel and Jackson were pronounced dead at the scene and Leighton was rushed to Maryland Capital Region Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.

According to police, Klingaman and the two passengers in his vehicle were not injured, and the driver of the Impala was not injured. Police said they believe “alcohol may have been a factor in the crash” and charges are pending.

Jackson, who had the best season of his career while at Oregon, was selected by the Vikings in the fourth round of this year's NFL Draft with the No. 108 overall pick. He had the best season of his career in 2023, making 34 tackles (five for loss), two sacks, seven pass breakups and three interceptions as the top cornerback for the Ducks.

“I am absolutely devastated by this news. Khairi brought an infectious energy to our facility and our team,” Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell said in a statement. “His confidence and engaging personality immediately attracted his teammates to him. In the short time he spent with us, it was clear Khairi was going to be a fine professional football player, but what was most impressive was his desire to be the best person he could be for his family and those around him. I am at a loss for words. My condolences are with Khairi's family, friends, teammates and coaches.”

Jackson's college career was spent at Fort Scott (Kansas) Community College, followed by East Mississippi CC, Alabama and Oregon. A minor arrest that was later dismissed forced Jackson to take a break from playing football between his junior college stops, and he worked at a grocery store while playing competitive gaming before returning to the field.

“I am deeply saddened by Khiry's loss. As we got to know him during the pre-draft process, it was clear what goals Khiry wanted to achieve professionally and personally,” Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said in a statement. “His story was one of resilience. He was taking steps to become the best version of himself not only for himself, but for those who cared about him and looked up to him. Khiry's personality radiated from every room he walked into. I am devastated that his life and everything he had in front of him has come to an end. My condolences are with Khiry's family and friends, the people who played with and coached him in college, and his teammates and coaches at the Vikings.”

He credited Dan Lanning for his success after being drafted, as the UO coach “believed in my abilities, but also understood what he had in a player.”

“I don't talk a lot off the field; I'm more calm and composed off the field,” Jackson said in April. “But when I'm in practice or a game, I'm a beast on the field. Like I don't have a lot of friends. I just want to demolish everybody in front of me. When I'm on the field, that's how I look at it.

“Having somebody that understands and really knows who I am. I think that helped me play a lot more comfortably this year. Coach Lanning told me a lot of times that, ‘Hey, I’ll let you play your game, but make sure you don’t get any flags.’ I just made sure I kept that up and that was our relationship.”

The Oregonian/OregonLive will update this story.

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