SAN DIEGO — Savaii Seau, the older brother of San Diego Chargers legend Junior Seau, died in a car crash this week, officials confirmed Wednesday.
The crash happened around 2:10 p.m. Tuesday, when the 56-year-old’s 2005 Audi A6 crashed head-on with a dump truck on Los Coches Road in Lakeside, California Highway Patrol said in a news release. Seau was taken to the hospital with serious injuries and pronounced dead a short time later.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner has confirmed Seau’s identity, CHP Officer Travis Garrow told FOX 5 by email. A 42-year-old woman riding in the Audi and the 60-year-old man driving the truck, which was a Helix Water District vehicle, suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to CHP.
The crash remains under investigation, but authorities said in a news release that Seau was headed north on Los Coches Road when he let the Audi drift into oncoming traffic “for an unknown reason.” The vehicles crashed head-on just south of Lakeview Road.
Seau did not appear to have been wearing a seatbelt, according to CHP, while his passenger and the truck driver were. It’s not yet known if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.
The elder Seau lived in El Cajon and was a beloved P.E. teacher at Warren-Walker School, a private institution with four campuses for various age groups around the county. Students knew him there as “Coachee” — “not only an endearing address — but one filled with deep respect and love,” said Raymond J. Volker, the school’s headmaster.
“The hearts of the entire Warren-Walker School community are heavy as we have lost a great human being, teacher and friend today,” Volker wrote by email. “Coach Seau, who rained love on all of his students, was a bright light in our WWS family, and loved by all. His inspiration, support and incredibly unselfish spirit will be missed by his family as well, and to whom we extend our deepest condolences.”
Volker said Seau’s “large physical presence was secondary to the size of his heart; a heart that was measured in the joy he brought to the students he touched each day in his physical education classes.”
Seau’s former football coach at Oceanside High School told FOX 5 one of the greatest honors he felt was when Seau went into coaching and began teaching future generations of athletes.
“It was a blessing to coach him, to know him,” Dave Barrett said. “He was a better man than he was a football player. A tremendously talented artist. He had just so many facets to his character.”
“Our prayers and our thoughts are with his mom and his dad, his brothers and sisters, the whole family,” Barrett added.
C.J. Palmer with the City of Oceanside runs the Junior Seau Community Center. He told FOX 5 the example of athletic excellence displayed by Seau’s family has acted as inspiration to generations of young athletes.
“The Seaus have been such a vital part to this center and that news was difficult for us to hear, difficult for the community to hear,” Palmer said. “That family has been through a lot, so we’re thinking about the family. Hopes and prayers go out to them.”
“The Seau name in the community of Oceanside is forever going to be there,” Palmer added.
Seau was still active at times in the Chargers fan community that remains in San Diego following the team’s move to Los Angeles in 2017. Last year, he was featured on the Facebook page of 5 North Bolt, a tour group that helps local fans attend nearby games.
Seau is pictured in an Aug. 15 photo from the group, participating in a fundraiser for his family’s CTE treatment and prevention foundation. The Mary Seau CTE Foundation was launched to bring awareness and funding for the traumatic brain injury, common in football players and other athletes who have experienced repeated hits to the head.
When Junior Seau died by suicide at his Oceanside home in 2012, medical experts found that the former linebacker had suffered from the brain disease. His death helped usher in a new era of scrutiny surrounding the sport’s impact on players’ brains and an evolution of safety measures and rule changes that continues today.
Junior, whose full name was Tiaina Baul Seau Jr., was just 43 years old at the time of his death and had recently retired. He was posthumously elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015, honoring a stellar career that featured more than a decade on the San Diego Chargers, including multiple All-Pro honors and an NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
He was much-beloved in San Diego, and his family has remained active in the community through the CTE foundation and other local causes.
FOX 5’s Jaime Chambers contributed to this report.