San Diego Native, Lobos Safety Markel Byrd Dies in Crash

The former Horizon Christian Academy quarterback was headed home for the holidays, according to officials from the University of New Mexico

A San Diego-area high school football standout who moved on to play for The University of New Mexico Lobos was killed Monday in a car accident, the university announced.

Markel Byrd, 20, was headed home to San Diego for the holidays when his car suffered a blown tire on Interstate 40 near Gallup, New Mexico. Byrd and his girlfriend were both ejected from the vehicle, school official said. The sophomore was killed instantly. His girlfriend was taken to a nearby hospital where she was listed in critical condition, according to the university.

He was like a shining star, his mother Stephanie Threadgill told NBC 7.

“Markel was my everything. All you could ever hope for as a kid,” she said. “He was a good athlete, he was a Christian as well, just overall a good kid."

Byrd played both quarterback and defensive back when he attended Horizon Christian Academy in San Diego.

"This is an absolute tragedy. Markel Byrd was an outstanding person and student-athlete and we will miss him," Lobo Head Coach Bob Davie said in a news release. "I was with the family late Tuesday night and obviously they are devastated. Our thoughts and prayers go to them. Markel will forever be a member of our family."

He redshirted in 2013 and then played safety for the Lobos for the past two seasons. Lobos team officials say he tied for the team lead in interceptions this season.

No word on memorial service and funeral arrangements. An online fundraising page has been established to help with expenses.

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A photo from Byrd's Facebook page dated 2012.
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