Son of Leafs GM Brian Burke dies in collision

The youngest son of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke was killed in a car accident in Indiana on Friday.

The youngest son of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke was killed in a car accident in Indiana on Friday.

Brendan Burke, 21, died of injuries sustained in a two-vehicle collision in snowy conditions on U.S. Highway 35 near Richmond, Ind.

A passenger in Burke's vehicle, Mark Reedy, 18, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., died at the scene of the afternoon crash, reported the Palladium-Item newspaper in Richmond.

The Maple Leafs organization released the following statement after the Leafs' game against the New Jersey Devils on Friday:

"We are saddened to report that Brendan Burke, the youngest son of Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke succumbed to injuries he suffered in an auto accident earlier today in Indiana. The family asks for privacy at this difficult time."

Brendan Burke was a student at Miami University in Ohio and had been largely out of the spotlight until just over two months ago, when he talked openly about the challenges of playing sports growing up while coming to terms with being gay.

"People in that situation deserve to know that they can feel safe, that sports isn't all homophobic and that there are plenty of people in sports who accept people for who they are," he told John Buccigross of ESPN.

Burke said in 2007 he came out to his father, who was supportive.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement late Friday offering his condolences.

"The National Hockey League grieves tonight for the family and friends of Brendan Burke, a young man of courage and character," said Bettman. "Words simply cannot express our sorrow over his loss. We send our deepest, most heartfelt condolences to Brendan's father, Brian; his mother, Kerry; everyone in Brendan's family; and all who were inspired by his love for hockey."

Richard Peddie, president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, said in a statement that the organization's "thoughts and prayers are with the Burke family during this extremely difficult time."

The Leafs GM is the father of six children.

With files from the Associated Press