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Royston native Dee Dowis, a Heisman Trophy finalist as an option quarterback at Air Force in 1989, died Monday morning after a traffic accident on I-85 in Gwinnett County.
According to Gwinnett authorities, Dowis was traveling south in the northbound lanes of I-85, north of the Flowery Branch Road overpass, about 4:48 a.m. Monday when he pulled into the center median and began to back up his 2014 BMW. As the BMW was backing from the center median, it was struck by a northbound vehicle on the driver’s side door.
Dowis was not wearing a seat belt, police said, and was declared dead at the scene.
The driver of the other vehicle, Jeremy Weiss, 22, of Raleigh, N.C., was treated at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton.
The Colorado Springs Gazette first reported Dowis' death. Dowis lived in South Carolina and worked as a pharmaceutical representative for Pfizer, according to the Gazette. He was 48.
Dowis set the NCAA record for career rushing yards for a quarterback with 3,612. He was sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1989, when he was the fifth player in NCAA history to rush and pass for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
Dowis played his high school football at Franklin County in northeast Georgia under coach Jeff Davis. Dowis was not an all-state player in high school and was lightly recruited, arriving at Air Force at only 150 pounds.
“Pound for pound, he was one of the greatest, most gifted and talented players to have played the college game,” former Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry told the Gazette. “Everybody in America had so much respect for him. And as great a player as he was, he was even a greater friend. His life never was about himself. All he wanted in life was to give back. This is just so tragic."
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