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Friday, March 21, 2003
Former Miami, 49ers safety killed in car accident
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Former Miami and San Francisco 49ers safety Al Blades was killed early Thursday when the car he was riding in crashed into a bridge and plunged into a canal. He was 26.

Blades, the brother of former Miami and NFL players Bennie and Brian Blades, was pronounced dead at Parkway Regional Medical Center, hospital spokesman Drew Landmeier said.

Blades was riding in the car when the driver, Martel Johnson, lost control early Thursday, police said. Witnesses told police that the driver lost control while racing with another car. Authorities were trying to find the driver of the other car.

Blades played for the Hurricanes from 1996-2000 and was considered the vocal leader of Miami's secondary. He was named to the All-Big East Conference first team in 2000.

"The University of Miami is deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of our former football players, Al Blades,'' Miami coach Larry Coker said in a statement. "Our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the Blades family.''

Blades signed with the 49ers as a free agent in 2001 and was placed on the practice squad. He was signed to the active roster twice but was released during training camp last summer.

"He was a good person, highly competitive and fun to be around,'' 49ers general manager Terry Donahue said in a statement. "He had just celebrated his 26th birthday; he had his whole life out in front of him. What a terrible accident. We express our deepest sympathies to his family.''