12/14/2006 12:00AM

Nichols, jockey, dies in crash


Jockey Jerri Nichols was killed in a car accident on Interstate 10 near Lake Charles, La., on Wednesday afternoon. The death was confirmed by Bobby Granger, the agent for Nichols's husband, jockey Kirk LeBlanc. Nichols was 35.

Nichols died at the scene when the car she was in, driven by LeBlanc, crashed into the rear of an 18-wheel truck, according to a release issued by the Louisiana State Police. LeBlanc escaped serious injury, was released from a local hospital, and went home with family members, said Granger.

No one else was reported injured.

LeBlanc had been named on seven mounts Wednesday night at nearby Delta Downs in Vinton, La., but did not ride.

Nichols and LeBlanc were married three years ago. Both have long been based in Louisiana.

"They were real, real close," Granger said. "It's going to be tough. He's got a long road ahead of him."'

Nichols won the first race of her career at Delta Downs, on March 3, 1988. She had not been riding in recent weeks while a broken wrist healed. During her career, Nichols won 1,466 races and had mount earnings of $10,543,728.