Sadly, a vehicular tragedy has hit the Bowden family for the second time in a decade and the Akron football family for the second time in less than a week.
The Polk County (Fla.) Sheriff Department confirmed Friday night that Taylor Jeffrey “T.J.” Bowden was one of two males killed in a car accident very early Thursday morning. A third passenger in the vehicle miraculously survived after the vehicle in which the three males, all between the ages of 22 and 25, were riding plunged into a creek and was not found for several hours.
The accident occurred at 2 a.m. ET after the three had left a Winter Haven bar. A sheriff’s spokesperson stated that investigators believe alcohol and speed were a factor in the crash, although toxicology reports on the driver will be needed to make the former determination. The driver, authorities said, was 25-year-old Rafael Fernandes De Aguiar Valim.
The 23-year-old Bowden is the grandson of Florida State coaching legend Bobby Bowden. He’s also the son of Akron assistant coach Jeff Bowden (pictured). His uncle, Terry Bowden, is the head coach of the Zips.
“I can’t express the grief I feel right now,” Jeff Bowden said in a statement. “Please keep us in your prayers.”
“Our whole family had just celebrated Christmas together in Panama City, as well as celebrated T.J.’s graduation from Florida State just three weeks ago,” Bobby Bowden said in a statement that was released through the University of Akron. “We will cherish those last memories together with T.J. forever.”
Earlier this week, Akron offensive line coach Alan “Tank” Arrington died as a result of injuries sustained in a two-car accident in Mississippi.
In 2004, 15-year-old Bowden Madden, Bobby Bowden’s grandson, along with the ex-FSU head coach’s son-in-law were killed in a car accident in Tallahassee.