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Driver suspected in fatal wreck is former Weatherford football standout

FORT WORTH — The driver suspected of causing a fatal wreck Monday night that killed a Burleson man is apparently former Weatherford football standout Mark Pierce, who went on to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Police on Tuesday identified the man whom they arrested after a pursuit as Mark Charles Pierce, 26, of Vicksburg, Miss.

He is suspected of driving drunk and striking a van driven by Lance Shetler, 42, of Burleson, who was pronounced dead at the scene near Spinks Airport in far south Fort Worth. Pierce fled on foot but was caught about an hour later, according to police.

Pierce was driving a Chevrolet TrailBlazer that his mother had reported stolen from her Burleson home, according to Lt. Paul Henderson, a Fort Worth police spokesman.

Alcohol containers were in the TrailBlazer, and Pierce showed signs of intoxication, said Sgt. Rodney Bangs, a police supervisor.

Pierce was arrested on suspicion of intoxication manslaughter and failure to stop and render aid. He was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital, but Henderson did not confirm his whereabouts or condition Tuesday night. A hospital official said it was up to police to provide a report on Pierce.

Henderson also did not provide identifying information about the man in custody. But public records searches and news reports show that the Mark Pierce who played football at Weatherford is now 26 and had moved to Vicksburg.

Pierce was a star running back at Weatherford High School, where he graduated in 2001. He racked up 4,446 yards and 63 touchdowns during his high school career. He had similar success at the University of Arkansas, scoring three touchdowns in a seven-overtime victory over the University of Mississippi in 2001.

But Pierce found trouble in Arkansas, too. He left the team to seek “emotional help,” according to his coach.

“Everyone believed Pierce had turned the corner, but within days he told some teammates his newfound spiritual life didn’t mean he was going to quit drinking,” wrote Wally Hall, a columnist at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, in 2003. “That drinking was just part of his life, he said, and had been for a while.”

Pierce was later suspended for a game after being arrested on a disorderly conduct complaint in Fayetteville, Ark., in 2003. He was also accused of hitting a man outside a liquor store that same night.

By the end of the season, Pierce decided to pursue a career in the NFL but slipped to the bottom of scouts’ lists because of off-field behavior, according to news reports. He tried out for the Dallas Desperados arena football team in 2005 but was cut after a short stint.

Family members reached at two places declined to comment.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

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