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Deyna Drinking Heavily at Time of Fatal Accident

September 27, 1989|DON PATTERSON

SAN DIEGO — Kaz Deyna, a member of five Socker championship teams, had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit when he crashed into a parked truck and died on Sept. 1, the San Diego County Coroner's Office said Tuesday.

Deyna had a blood-alcohol level of .20%, said Max Murphy, the supervising deputy at the coroner's office. California law recognizes .10 as the legal limit.

"You can be assured that the guy was doing some heavy drinking," said Lloyd Needham, a public affairs officer for the California Highway Patrol in San Diego. Deyna, 41, had a history of drunk driving. He was convicted three times of driving under the influence following arrests on Aug. 7, 1984, May 14, 1987 and Oct. 29, 1987, according to San Diego Municipal Court records.

For two of the convictions, he was given 180-day jail sentences, which were both suspended after two days. His license was temporarily suspended after the third conviction, but, according to state Department of Motor Vehicles records, he was driving legally at the time of the accident.

Deyna, a native of Poland and a member of Poland's 1972 Olympic gold-medal team, was pronounced dead at the scene. The accident occurred about 1:25 a.m. on Interstate 15 north of Mira Mesa Boulevard. The coroner's report said Deyna, who was driving alone, died of massive head injuries. According to the CHP report, the hazard lights of the truck, which was parked on the right shoulder, were blinking, and there were no skid marks from Deyna's car.

Two weeks before his death, Deyna was in Europe participating in an all-star exhibition game with the Polish national team against Denmark. Juli Veee, a former Socker teammate of Deyna's who saw him frequently during the past year, said returning from the trip might have depressed Deyna.

"He went back and he was Kaz Deyna the star again," Veee said. "I don't care what anybody says, it's tough to lose the notoriety when you're at the top and suddenly you're driving down Mira Mesa Boulevard and nobody even knows you."

Veee said he was aware of Deyna's drinking, but that Deyna seemed to have it under control.

"I wasn't worried about the drinking too much, because in Europe a lot of players drink," Veee said. "Some people would say 'The hell with him. He was an alcoholic.' No, he liked his drinks. He could handle it. He was never drunk in the games. I think he knew what his limit was. Maybe this time he just didn't know."

Deyna, a Socker from 1981-87, publicly expressed his displeasure with the team during his final season, when he played sparingly.

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