Former New Orleans Saints defensive end footballer Will Smith
Former New Orleans Saints defensive end footballer Will Smith was killed in apparent road rage incident Getty

The former New Orleans Saints footballer Will Smith has been killed after being involved in a car crash. The 34-year-old defensive end was with his wife when their car was shunted from behind in the Garden District of New Orleans on Saturday, 9 April.

According to police authorities, Smith and his wife were driving in their Mercedes Benz SUV when they were rear-ended by a Hummer H2. The collision resulted in Smith's vehicle hitting a Chevrolet Impala, according to the Times-Picayune.

Smith and the driver of the Hummer "exchanged words, at which time the driver of the Hummer produced a handgun and shot (Smith) multiple times and his 34-year-old wife twice in the right leg", said New Orleans police department spokesman Juan Barnes.

"It appears that it could possibly have been road rage," he added.

The coroner confirmed the victim as Smith, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The alleged shooter, a 30-year-old man, was arrested and is in custody. The gun said to have been used in the shooting was recovered.

Having a blast at the #fqf2016

A photo posted by Will Smith (@iwillsmith) on

An eyewitness at the scene, Janis Baehr, said she was walking near the scene of the incident when she heard six to eight gunshots. She then went to the aid of Smith's wife, giving her ice chips.

Just five hours before his death, Smith posted a picture of himself and his 34-year-old wife on Instagram, saying he was "having a blast" at a New Orleans festival.

Tributes for the former Super Bowl star have poured in on social media. "A senseless and tragic loss," tweeted the vice president of New Orleans communications Greg Bensel. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Will Smith - his wife Racquel - his children William, Wynter and Lisa."

Mark Ingram, who is a current player for the team, also expressed his shock at the violent death of Smith.

According to the Times-Picayune, there were 164 murders in New Orleans during 2015, making it the fourth most deadly city in the US. So far during 2016, the city has seen 30 homicides.

The US Bureau of Justice Statistics figures shows that between 1989-2014 the state of Louisiana, which New Orleans is located in, has experienced the highest rate of murder amongst all 50 US states.