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Swimmer Victor Davis, 25, Dies of Injuries

November 14, 1989|ELLIOTT ALMOND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Victor Davis, Canada's flamboyant Olympic gold-medal swimmer, died Monday from injuries incurred Saturday in an accident that Montreal police still are trying to unravel.

Davis, 25, was pronounced dead at 11 a.m. PST, said Jacques Charbonneau, a spokesman for Notre Dame Hospital in Montreal.

Doctors gave Davis little chance of surviving after suffering a severe skull fracture, brain and spinal damage and multiple bruises from being hit by a car.

Charbonneau said that at the family's request, Davis' body remains connected to life-support systems to keep his organs--which were not injured in the accident--viable for use in transplants.

Davis will be buried in his hometown of Guelph, in southern Ontario. Funeral services are expected to be held Friday, a spokesman said.

In 1984, with a Maple Leaf tattoo on his chest, Davis became a national hero when he won a gold medal in the 200-meter breaststroke and a silver in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Los Angeles Games.

Police have said they are treating the case as a traffic accident and have turned the case over to the accident investigation squad. No charges have been filed, which has led to some confusion and controversy.

Davis' family and friends have questions about the incident and his family has hired a well known Montreal criminal lawyer to explore further course of action.

Police said the Davis case is not classified as hit-and-run because the driver of the car went to the police station after the accident. The driver, a 19-year-old man who has not been identified, told police he thought he hit something.

"It's not the same as leaving the scene of an accident," said Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette. "One of the reasons you would have that distinction is because you have a lot of remote areas and it is difficult to wait around for police."

Furthermore, police said they have not laid manslaughter charges because details of the accident are unclear.

Police said they are examining the car to figure out who is responsible for the accident outside a bar in suburban Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue. The bar is one of six along a narrow strip about a mile from John Abbott Community College.

Three men who were in the car told police that Davis was standing in the road and threw a bottle of orange soda at the car, cracking the windshield.

They told police that they panicked and sped away, but did not see what happened to Davis. They said they assumed he moved out of their way.

Davis' girlfriend, Donna Clavel, however, had a conflicting account.

Clavel, 22, said Saturday that the three men were drinking at a table next to Clavel, her friend, Jennifer Watts, and Davis. She said her group left the bar and Davis walked across the street to buy an orange soda. When Davis returned, the men were outside shouting at Clavel and Watts, Clavel said.

Clavel said the men got into their car and drove to the corner and turned toward Davis, who was standing in the street. She said the car accelerated and hit Davis, although he tried to get out of the way.

"In the American system there is some sort of charge of negligence even if not deliberate, but that does not exist here," Hickey said. "This could be written off as an auto accident."

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