RICHLAND COUNTY, S.C. — A star football player in both the NFL and locally during his high school career has died in a motorcycle accident in Richland County.
The Richland County Coroner's Office confirmed on Friday that 47-year-old David Patten Jr. of Columbia had died in a motorcycle accident just before 10 p.m. the previous day.
South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCHP) Lance Corporal Nick Pye reported the fatal collision involving three vehicles on Clemson Road near Old Clemson Road in northeast Richland County.
The motorcycle was traveling west on Clemson and went left of center and struck a 2014 Chevrolet sedan. The sedan then sideswiped a 2019 Honda van.
The drivers of the Chevrolet and the Honda, as well as a passenger in the van, were wearing seatbelts. The driver and passenger in the Honda were not injured. The driver of the Chevrolet was taken to an area hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Patten was pronounced dead at the scene.
In his career, Patten was perhaps most well-known for his time as a wide receiver with the New England Patriots. However, he also had a storied career as a high school football player in Richland County.
Patten was a star at Lower Richland High School later attended Western Carolina University. He started out in arena football as a professional player before eventually joining the NFL in 1997, playing with the Giants, Browns, and eventually the Patriots.
Patten was known as a threat in multiple situations since he could catch, run, and even throw for touchdowns. The local star won three Super Bowls with the Patriots and even became one of Tom Brady's most dependable receivers.
Richland One Superintendent Dr. Craig WItherspoon later released a statement upon learning of Patten's death.
“We were saddened to learn of the tragic death of David Patten who was killed in an accident Thursday, September 2. Mr. Patten, a graduate of Lower Richland High School, played on several NFL teams and he was a three-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots. Mr. Patten gave back to the Lower Richland High School community by providing track and field equipment and mentoring students, and he was a motivational speaker for male middle school students throughout Richland One. We extend our condolences and prayers to his family.”
Tributes have begun pouring in following the announcement of Patten's death. Those memorials include one from defensive tackle Richard Seymour who played alongside him with the Patriots and also attended Lower Richland.
"Heartbroken," Seymour said. "Great man of God... lost for words - David Patten..."
Patriots CEO Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick later issued their own statements - each saying he was "heartbroken" to learn the news.