Cardinals NT Dan Williams missed Saints game after father’s death in traffic accident

Arizona Cardinals nose tackle Dan Williams missed Sunday’s game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against the New Orleans Saints after his father was killed in a traffic accident on Friday afternoon, officials said.

Williams’ dad, mother and sister were driving south from his hometown of Memphis to attend the game in New Orleans when they got into a traffic wreck on Interstate 55 about three miles south of Grenada, Miss. Williams’ mom and sister were hospitalized following the wreck, Cardinals spokesman Mark Dalton said. The player’s father, Thomas Williams, died from injuries sustained in the crash.

Karen Williams, 56, was driving her family in a 2007 Chevrolet and attempted to pass a car when she collided with a guard rail on the left, said Trooper Tony Dunn, a spokesman for the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Williams’ car went airborne, over the guard rail and onto a county road running below the interstate.

Thomas Williams, 62, was sitting in the front passenger seat, was unrestrained and was ejected, Dunn said. Authorities pronounced him dead at the scene.

Emergency response personnel took Williams and back-seat passenger Kristina Fluckner, 29, to University Medical Center in Jackson, Miss., Dunn said. They were both wearing their seat belts and suffered injuries that Dunn described as potentially life-threatening.

Arizona selected the 6-foot-3, 314-pound Dan Williams out of Tennessee in the first round of the 2010 draft. He has started 22 games for the Cardinals since 2011 and scored a touchdown off an interception return in Arizona’s Week 1 defeat at St. Louis.

Cardinals backup nose tackle Alameda Ta’amu started in place of Williams, who was excused from traveling to New Orleans with his team.

“He stayed with his family,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said about Williams. “Our prayers and thoughts go to Dan.”