Local News

UNC student mascot in critical condition after being hit by car

Posted March 23, 2007 11:42 p.m. EDT
Updated April 30, 2008 4:27 p.m. EDT

— The student who wears the costume of Rameses, the University of North Carolina mascot, was in critical condition Sunday afternoon  with injuries he suffered when an SUV hit him while he was crossing a road before UNC's NCAA Tournament basketball game, officials said.

A spokeswoman for  said Jason Ray, a senior from Concord, was being treated at Hackensack University Medical Center. He was returning to his hotel in Fort Lee after buying food at a convenience store Friday when he was struck by a Mercury Mountaineer trying to exit a highway, police reported.

The driver of the vehicle, Gagik Hovsepyan, stopped the car, tried to help and called police.

Ray is a member of the UNC cheerleading squad and has portrayed Rameses for three years. He was to have appeared Friday night at UNC's Sweet 16 game against the University of Southern California at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford.

"We found out after the game," said UNC guard Wes Miller. "It's shocking. It's awful. We're just praying for him."

"We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident," UNC athletic director Dick Baddour said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to Jason and his family and our prayers are with them."

"I lost my sister last week, and that was really hard," said UNC coach Roy Williams. “I cannot imagine what a parent is going through when a situation like this happens."

On the Web site Facebook.com, friends and people who didn't even know Ray have posted get-well wishes and hopes for a positive outcome.

The crash is still under investigation, and no criminal charges have been filed, police said.