By David Farber, CNN • Updated 15th August 2011
(CNN) — Broncos country had mixed feelings Monday night when news of wide receiver Demaryius Thomas’ death in a car accident.
Thomas, who, as a member of the Atlanta Falcons in 2009, led the league in receiving yards and touchdown catches, was killed when a car he was in crashed in Atlanta, police said. He was just 33.
“The entire Broncos organization is in a state of mourning over the loss of Demaryius Thomas,” the Broncos said in a statement. “While not on the field, his contribution will be felt by our fans, teammates and coaches.”
Thomas, who according to the NFL was the eighth-leading receiver in the league in his five seasons, leaves behind a wife and 6-month-old son.
“Words cannot express the void that will be left in our team when Demaryius leaves us,” Broncos general manager Brian Xanders said in a statement. “He was a tremendous team player who had a tremendous impact in the locker room and on the field, while being a terrific representative of our organization off the field.”
Chargers and Broncos wide receiver Vincent Jackson, Thomas’ teammate in Atlanta, posted on his Twitter account: “Shocked and saddened. Demaryius Thomas was a very good friend, a great teammate, and the most incredible father and husband you could ever imagine. If your son wants to be a sportsman he can totally live out his dream, and always wake up with a smile on his face. Rest in peace Brother”
Jackson said he was working out at the time of the crash and driving nearby to his mother’s house.
“Had the most horrible feeling in my stomach hearing the news of the horrific crash that took my close friend, Demaryius Thomas,” Jackson said in a series of tweets. “I cannot believe that you are gone but as I said, you will never be forgotten. RIP Demaryius.”
Other NFL players also have tweeted their condolences.
“(Thomas) was a great teammate who was definitely a standout on our Broncos team,” wrote Denver Broncos safety Rahim Moore. “I’m saddened to see this news.”
“I’m really shocked. So sad,” tweeted Bengals running back Cedric Benson. “He was so young and was having a great year. He will be missed.”
“So sad,” wrote Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards. “I grew up a fan of Demaryius and he was so tight with me, he taught me a lot when he came to Atlanta last year and now he is gone. Can’t believe it.”
The Broncos designated cornerback Omar Bolden, Thomas’ current teammate, as their player representative in an NFL-wide discussion about concussions, Xanders said.
“As the only Broncos player representative, Bolden is following this process and will have the fullest respect to the owner and owners for handling this collectively, but our hearts and prayers go out to Demaryius’ family during this very sad time,” Xanders said.
Bolden told reporters: “Demaryius was very close to everybody and we all know each other a lot. So it is very sad to hear the news. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family.”
Backup defensive back Darian Stewart told reporters: “It’s terrible. We just talked to (Bolden) and he said they had just found out. It’s hard to believe.”
According to police, a 25-year-old woman was ejected from the car in the crash. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.
A preliminary investigation found that Thomas and the woman were the only occupants in the SUV. A witness told investigators that he had been in a taxi cab and the two vehicles had met shortly before the crash, according to police.
Authorities said the driver of the SUV ran a red light, causing the crash.