Student: Ex-Titan Bironas chased friends’ vehicle before fatal crash

  • Associated Press
  • Tuesday, September 23, 2014 5:11pm
  • SportsSports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A college student told a 911 dispatcher that a man he later identified as Rob Bironas chased him and his friends, then tried to hit their pickup truck minutes before the former Titans kicker’s fatal crash.

Metro Nashville Police Department released copies of two 911 calls Tuesday afternoon. One call was made by Bironas’ wife reporting him missing at 11:40 p.m. on Sept. 20. The second was from Belmont University student Connor Fraley at 10:45 p.m. while being chased by Bironas, who was driving a white SUV.

“He’s literally trying to hit us now,” Fraley told the dispatcher. “We pulled next to him at a stop light, and I told him that something was burning in his exhaust and he called us an … and he’s following us right now. He’s been swerving all over the road. We aren’t keeping the speed limit, but it’s because he’s literally trying to do whatever it takes to hit us.”

Bironas, 36, crashed his white 2009 GMC Yukon Denali just after 11 p.m. Sept. 20. Police said he was speeding as he lost control in a curve, ran off the road into a line of trees and overturned in a culvert near his Nashville home. The investigation is ongoing, and autopsy results aren’t expected for weeks. Police said there was no evidence of alcohol or drugs at the scene.

The call describes what appears to be a troubling sequence of events before Bironas crashed.

It is the second road rage incident allegedly involving the kicker within the 30 minutes of his death.

After Bironas had crashed, a woman standing at the accident site told a 911 dispatcher in a call released Monday that he had tried to run her and her husband off the road minutes earlier. The woman told the dispatcher that she and her husband had pulled over and let the man, who they didn’t recognize at the time, drive past them. She told the dispatcher that the police needed to know something was wrong with him before the crash.

Fraley was a passenger in a truck with other unidentified Belmont students, including a male driver and two females in the backseat. He told The Tennessean he recognized Bironas as the SUV driver after his roommate texted him a photo Sunday morning.

“We had no idea who he was and why he was trying to harm us,” Fraley told The Tennessean. “It was a fight or flight situation and, unfortunately, we had to take flight at about 110 miles per hour. It was very scary.”

Fraley did not respond to emails and other messages from The Associated Press on Tuesday. Belmont’s communications director said he passed on a request through the university to the student.

On the 911 call, Fraley told the dispatcher he saw police lights and thought the SUV had been pulled over. The students drove to a parking garage on campus and later gave a report to officers.

Nashville police researched radio traffic and said they found no stop of a white SUV in the time frame of Fraley’s call. The first time an officer checked the license plate on Bironas’ SUV was after 11:30 p.m. from the crash scene.

Bironas’ wife Rachel, daughter of Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, called 911 when she couldn’t locate her husband. She called approximately two hours after he left their house where they had been watching a movie.

“He just left, and that was it,” Rachel Bironas said on the call. “He just left. He has a white Denali, and he just drove away and we haven’t seen him since.”

Asked if the couple had argued, she said no.

“He just left,” Rachel Bironas said. “I have a girlfriend over. I turned around, and he was gone.”

The couple married in June after Bironas was released by the Titans in March. He played nine seasons with the franchise and had worked out for Detroit last week. The Lions released Nate Freese on Monday and are expected to sign kicker Alex Henery.

Bironas was the fourth most-accurate kicker in NFL history, connecting on 85.7 percent of his kicks (239 of 279). He finished as the Titans’ second leading career scorer with 1,032 points, and he made a franchise-record 11 winning field goals during his career.

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