Former All Blacks captain Jerry Collins has been killed this morning in an accident on a French motorway.
His wife of six months, Alana Madill, also died in the incident, while their three-month-old baby has been taken to hospital in Montpellier with serious injuries. She is in a critical condition.
The 34-year-old Samoan-born New Zealand player was in Herault in southern France at 4.30am local time when the vehicle the family was travelling in stalled, reports French publication Midi Libre. A bus travelling behind them then collided into their car.
We are shocked and saddened by reports about the accident involving Jerry.
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) June 5, 2015
Midi Libre has also reported that the car was thrown 10metres from the impact. It is believed that Mr Collins and Ms Madill died instantly.
The bus drivers managed to remove the baby from the wreckage before emergency services arrived. Two passengers in that vehicle have also been injured.
“It is a travesty. Both Jerry and has partner have been killed. Their three-month-old baby is very badly injured. It is devastating news for his family and everybody,” Tim Castle, Collin's agent, told Stuff.co.nz.
“The news has shocked us all and our thoughts are with Jerry and Alana’s families at this terribly sad time.
“We offer our deepest condolences to them and will support them as they come to terms with this devastating news,” New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen also said.
Mr Collins' cousin, Vincent Collins, posted to social media: “In shock and disbelief after hearing of the passing of our beloved cousin Jerry Collins and his lovely wife.”
He added: “I was just smiling and laughing with my fiancé at some of his cute pictures with his daughter a couple of days ago, and here we are talking about this sad news and tragedy.
“Don't know what else to say but please pray for their three-month-old daughter as she is in critical condition.”
Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll is among the big names who are paying tribute to Jerry this morning.
Terrible news about Jerry Collins & his wife in France. Thoughts are with his family.
— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) June 5, 2015
The rugby player notched up a total of 48 test matches with the All Blacks, three of which he was captain for.
After retiring from his international rugby career in 2008, he joined French side Toulon before moving to Wales to play for Ospreys.
He also spent two years in Japan but joined French second division side Narbonne in January.
Jerry was born in Apia, Samoa in November 1980 and much of his family remain on the Polynesian island.