Ex-UND, Eden Prairie football star dies after crash in Thailand


A motorcycle crash in Thailand claimed the life of former Eden Prairie High School and University of North Dakota star linebacker Travis O'Neel.

O'Neel, 36, died Tuesday at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, four days after the motorcycle he was riding collided with a truck. According to a post on his CaringBridge page, O'Neel suffered multiple broken bones and a severe injury to both his skull and brain.

His wife and two children, along with his brother, mother, and step father, had all been by his side in the hospital.

An update by his brother Tuesday said O'Neel's injuries were "considerable," but his heart "remains strong." The family took steps to make sure his heart and other organs will be donated.

"It is but one of the ways we will keep Travis alive," the post says. "He will remain with us in spirit as well."

O'Neel, who wore No. 36, was a captain on UND's NCAA Division II national championship team in 2001. He led UND in tackles that season and was named an All-American.

He began teaching in Costa Rica following his all-academic football career and eventually moved to Thailand to teach. He also met his wife there and started a family with two sons, the Grand Forks Herald notes.

Bubba Schweigert, UND's current head coach and O'Neel's defensive coordinator in college, spoke highly of O'Neel in a statement released by the university.

"On the field, he was one of our all-time greats. He was a captain of our national championship team. He was a dependable, physical, athletic inside linebacker who played the game with passion and who was a part of one of the most dominant defenses in the history of UND football," it said.

Donations to help pay for medical expenses and support O'Neel's family can be made here.

Chris Lister, a friend of O'Neel's, wrote a song to commemorate his life.

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