DALLAS -- Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson was injured and his younger brother killed Thursday when the football player's car slammed into the rear of a tractor-trailer truck parked near a highway exit, police said.
Police spokesman Bob Shaw said the accident, which was initially attributed to 'unsafe speed,' would be referred to a Dallas County grand jury because a death was involved.
Pearson, 33, was in surgery at Presbyterian Hospital for almost 2 hours Thursday afternoon to stop bleeding in his liver.
'The bleeding was stopped. He is in stable but serious condition,' spokesman Bill Mays said. 'That's the extent of the information we can release.'
A team spokesman said Pearson would spend the night in intensive care.
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Pearson's brother, Carey Mark Pearson, 27, was pronounced dead at the scene at the Plano Road exit of the LBJ Freeway in north Dallas.
The accident occurred at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday as Drew Pearson was driving his brother to the home of another brother, Andre Pearson, team spokesman Greg Aiello said.
Aiello said the Pearsons had just returned from a bus trip to a charity basketball game in Coalgate, Okla., with the Dallas Hoopsters, the off-season Cowboys basketball team organized by the 11-year veteran wide receiver.
The truck, registered to a Houston firm, was parked alongside the highway with its emergency lights on, police said. The driver, Larry Jameson, was not injured.
'Unsafe speed was a contributing factor of the accident,' said police spokeswoman Eva Romero.
Shaw said there were indications Drew Pearson had been drinking, although he was not intoxicated.
'There is evidence he (Drew) had been drinking but he was not legally intoxicated,' Shaw said. 'According to the report, the alcohol blood level was 0.053 percent and to be legally intoxicated the blood level must be at least 0.10 percent.
Pearson's associates expressed sorrow about the accident.
'Right now he's not feeling too good,' said fellow wide receiver Tony Hill, who visited Pearson in his hospital room Thursday.
'He's going to make it for sure. He's spoken a little bit. He's not in critical,' said Hill.
Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry issued a statement through team headquarters.
'We were shocked to hear the news and are very sympathetic with Drew's family in the loss of his brother,' Landry said. 'We surely hope that Drew is not seriously hurt and that he will recover.'
Pearson, a native of South River, N.J., played collegefootball for the University of Tulsa. A free agent who had been overlooked in the college draft, he walked into the Cowboys' training camp in 1973. He became the Cowboys' all-time leading receiver in 1980, surpassing Bob Hayes' mark of 365 catches.
He was named to the All-Decade Team of the 1970s by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and made the Pro Bowl team in 1974, 1976 and 1977. He was the NFC's leading receiver in 1976 with 58 catches and holds a Dallas club record for catching passes in 58 consecutive games.
He became a starter for Dallas midway through his rookie year and has missed only one game due to injury, in December 1979. Pearson started on both Dallas Super Bowl champion teams.
Among his career highlights were an 83-yard fourth-quarter touchdown reception to beat the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs in 1973 and the 50-yard 'Hail Mary' touchdown reception from quarterback Roger Staubach in the final 20 seconds of a 1975 playoff game against Minnesota.
Pearson, one of the most popular and well-respected players on the Dallas team, was an offensive captain in 1977 and 1978.
Recently he has also worked with the Distilled Spirits Council as their national spokesman against teenage alcohol abuse.
He and his wife, Marsha, have two daughters.