A former Heisman Trophy contender was going the wrong way on Interstate 85 near Buford when he was hit by another car and killed early Monday.
Dee Dowis, 48, of Simpsonville, S.C., was killed in the accident, which was reported to the Gwinnett County Police Department at 4:43 a.m. He was not wearing a seat belt and died at the scene, police said.
The wreck occurred north of the Flowery Branch Road overpass on I-85.
Dowis was going south in a 2014 BMW in the northbound lanes of I-85. The BMW pulled into the median and began to back up.
The driver of the second car, Jeremy Weiss, 22, of Raleigh, N.C., was going north on I-85 in a 2015 Subaru. The Subaru hit the BMW in the driver’s side of the car.
Weiss was injured in the accident and was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Braselton.
Gwinnett County Police said in their report, “it is still not clear what caused Dowis to travel down the interstate in the wrong direction. Speed does not appear to be a contributing factor.”
Dowis, who played for four seasons at Air Force, finished sixth in the 1989 Heisman Trophy balloting as a senior. He rushed for 1,286 yards and 18 touchdowns while passing for another 1,285 yards and seven touchdowns that season. He led the Falcons to an 8-4-1 record and an appearance in the Liberty Bowl.
His 3,612 career rushing yards remain an Air Force record.
“Pound for pound, without a doubt, the greatest, most gifted and talented player to maybe ever play the college game,” former Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry said in a phone interview Tuesday. “He proved you don’t have to be a physical giant to be a quarterback in the triple-option offense.”
As a tribute to Dowis, the Falcons rush-ordered helmet decals for their season opener Saturday against Abilene Christian. Other honors are in the works, too.
“I think anybody who has ever met him will tell you he was quite kind, respectful, humble — a guy that loved his family immensely,” current Falcons coach Troy Calhoun said. “Somebody you always felt like was a real quality, quality friend.”
Dowis worked in public affairs and advocacy for Pfizer, according to his LinkedIn page.