Hancock in car crash two days before death

May 1, 2007 at 1:58 PM

ST. LOUIS, May 1 (UPI) -- St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock was nearly killed in a car crash two days before he died in a rented SUV after rear-ending a tow truck on Sunday.

Hancock, 29, was died instantly early Sunday in the crash. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Tuesday said he survived a close call late Thursday when the front of his own vehicle was torn off by a tractor-trailer as he was attempting to make a left turn.

Hancock was not injured in that accident and was not charged, but showed up late for that night's baseball game, which reportedly infuriated manager Tony La Russa.

La Russa declined to say whether he was aware of Thursday's crash.

"That's not a baseball-related question so I don't think I'll answer it," he said.

The Post-Dispatch quoted witnesses after Saturday night's 8-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs as saying Hancock appeared impaired at a steak house and declined to take a taxi to a nearby hotel.

He was killed after leaving the restaurant. Toxicology reports aren't expected for two to six weeks, the report said.

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