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Buffalo Bills free safety Keion Carpenter returns an interception against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 12, 2000, at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y. Carpenter has emerged as one of the big surprises in a Bills defensive backfield that had been decimated by offseason salary-cap-induced departures. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

Former NFL and Virginia Tech safety Keion Carpenter died at age 39


Former NFL and Virginia Tech player Keion Carpenter died Thursday morning after a freak accident while on vacation in Miami, Florida with his family. He was 39. 

Carpenter's cousin, Jamila Smith, told the Baltimore Sun he fell while playing with his son. 

"They were running to the car when (Carpenter) slipped, fell, hit his head and slipped into a coma," Smith said. "It was just a freak accident." 

Carpenter remained in a coma for 24 hours at Jackson South Community Hospital before he died at 6:47 a.m. on Thursday. 

Carpenter was a safety for Virginia Tech until he graduated in 1999. He then played six years in the NFL -- three with the Buffalo Bills and three with the Atlanta Falcons. 

Carpenter's former head coach at Virginia Tech, Frank Beamer, issued the following statement Thursday: 

"Keion was one of the rocks around which we built our program at Virginia Tech in the 1990s. He was a tenacious punt blocker and a relentless player on defense." 

He also founded The Carpenter House in 2005, just one year before he retired from the NFL, according to the Baltimore Sun. 

The Baltimore-based organization's website saysThe Carpenter House works to "support the development of healthy homes and environments for low-income children to thrive and reach their highest potential for academic success."

Smith said the Baltimore-native was living in Buford, Georgia but always returned to ensure the organization was doing well. 

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