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UNC mascot dies after accident near arena

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HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) -- A 21-year-old University of North Carolina student who served as a mascot for the men's basketball team has died.

Steve Kirschner, UNC's associate athletics director for communications, says Jason Ray died at 8:38 a.m. His death comes three days after he was struck by a sport-utility vehicle while walking along a New Jersey highway.

Ray, who dressed up as UNC's ram mascot Rameses, had been in critical condition since the accident on Route 4. He had been in New Jersey for the NCAA men's tournament game between the Tar Heels and Southern California at Continental Airlines Arena.

Police say Ray left his hotel to go to a nearby convenience store Friday afternoon, and was walking back along Route 4 when he was struck from behind by an SUV. The driver stopped immediately to call 911. No charges have been filed.

Police say the driver had a valid driver's license and did not appear to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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